Transcript of Jets head coach Rex Ryan's news conference following Friday's midday rookie minicamp practice at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center:
It was good to get guys out there running around, albeit rookies. It was good. I think we got guys flying around. We were teaching them pursuit drills. I sat in there with Mike Pettine and it takes you back to 10, 12 years ago when you are putting it in and it is the same thing and you are like "Wow! We have a little teaching to do." It is always fun to really go back and start on the very basics of things. That is where we are at with this group.
I liked the enthusiasm. Some of the guys were flying around out there. Obviously some of the guys just jumped out at you when you looked at [Quinton] Coples and you look at [Stephen] Hill, the way they can run, and [Demario] Davis. It is kind of fun to watch. Coples would pass guys up in that pursuit drill. I know it's not an official stat, I don't know how many sacks he had last year, but he had about six today [laughter].
It's kind of fun to watch these guys. We were running a dig route, with an inside cut at about 20 yards. No. 2 goes up the field and Hill is already right there with him. So they kind of intersected. I was like, "We'd better make sure we have another guy that can fly that is playing that 2 position if we're going to run that route because Hill can fly."
There were a lot of encouraging things. We have guys going the wrong way, this way and every other way. That's to be expected — you're throwing a lot at these guys. I think overall it was encouraging.
On Coples playing both the left side and right side today…
Really, that's the thing you can do and it's easy when you have a Muhammad Wilkerson that you can go right and left with like we did with Shaun [Ellis]. Today we just had [Coples] playing the end position. We have what we call a tackle, even though they can look like the same exact position. We call one of them a tackle and one of them an end and then we have the nose tackle. That is basically why you saw so much flopping from him. Absolutely, could we stand him up in a rush position? Yes, we can. He has that kind of ability. He can run and obviously he has that length that you look for.
On Coples saying he picked up the majority of the playbook…
We love the fact that he thinks he has it down. This is one practice and he has like four defenses in and our library is a little more extensive than that [joking].
On Coples saying he has grasped everything…
I like his confidence and all of that. And the great thing is we'll hold him to it now. So in the meeting, that'll be our first question. We'll come up with something for him.
On what his expectation is for this weekend…
That's an interesting question, because some of the tryout guys, as I told them today, I was very honest with them, I told them, "This may be your last football." That's the facts. So some of these guys are trying to get to where they can go to the OTAs and to training camp. There are some guys where that is not guaranteed. There are  guys here and it's not guaranteed that all of them will be there. So that might be a little different for them.
Obviously, the drafted guys, you just want to see them move around and really start learning the system a little bit. When you hear about Coples, that's great. I love when they all think that they have it, because the next day, the installation comes in, and it's like "I had it," not "I have it." Demario Davis, I thought it was interesting, and I've talked about how he reminds me of some guys, I compared him to a young Bart [Scott], just some natural leadership where you either have it or you don't, and he seems like he has it. It will be interesting when someone digs up what his former coach thought about him and how he handled his presence on the field and in the locker room.
There are just some guys that have that natural leadership and he has some of that and that's what you love. In a linebacker, you really like that. We break the defense from running the pursuit drill and a guy calls them up. Well, who calls them up? Demario Davis calls them up. He has some natural things, and you listen to him, it's kind of interesting. I liked watching that.
On if the players are intimated when he yells at them…
You know what, you do bark at them a little bit. Mainly, it's protecting each other, staying up, making sure you take care of your teammate. We had a guy get his legs tripped up and fell down — you can't have that, and you try to tell them that. Then the first three plays of 7-on-7, we had three mental mistakes by the defense. So let's see, we're 0-for-3 here, by three different guys, and we had to single out three different guys. You're so used to here are your guys, there's no mistakes, and then all of a sudden, "Wow, we did such a great job of teaching, we've made three errors in three plays." [laughter]
And you realize it takes time, but still, it's almost like that old saying, you're either coaching it or allowing it to happen. We're not going to allow it to happen so we're going to correct it. Even it's it the first day, you try to get them fixed.
On if he was surprised by Stephen Hill…
Let's face it, I'm not going to get excited about drafting a wideout. That isn't my deal. So I want to see it to believe it, because everybody was talking about it. Then you watch him on that field and you're like "Wow." That's a big, fast guy, there's no question about it. It just jumps out. Obviously, the first thing you notice is that size he has, but then when you're seeing him down the field it's like, "Wow, this dude really can run."
I'm excited to see him with Sanjay [Lal, WRs coach], who I think is a tremendous coach, and his expertise that he brings to this young man, because it think he's willing. It's rare for rookies to come into this league and really have an impact as a receiver. Jerry Rice was a backup his first year. So sometimes it takes a little time.
I'm not saying he's going to do it right away, but knowing he has that desire, I know Sanjay is an outstanding teacher, the fact that you have Santonio Holmes, a guy that's been there and done that, I think will help this young man as well. It will be interesting to see how quickly he can progress.
On how much it helps a rookie when he's signed and doesn't have to worry about his contract…
I think in the past it was probably a bigger issue because things were so different. Now, picks are kind of slotted, so they pretty much know they're going to be signed, what you are going to make and all that. I haven't talked to him. Maybe that's why he signed so quickly. It wasn't two days and they have the contract done. That's impressive. I'm sure now that it's just football that there is some piece of mind there.
On expectations for Coples this season…
I think this: With the help of his teammates, and [DL coach] Karl Dunbar, who I think is outstanding [he will be successful]. We need to be successful collectively. Individually is great. Individual honors are great. If he's Rookie of the Year, if Robert Griffin is Rookie of the Year — not the one in Washington but ours — fine. It's going to take the collective effort of people to get any of those things. Even sacks, a lot of times it's the work of others.
We want everybody to have that desire to be great. He has the God-given ability to be great, because he has the size, the speed and the athleticism, but that doesn't guarantee anything. We know there's no substitute for hard work, no shortcuts to it. We're excited about, you don't want to say his potential, but it is the potential of what this young man can do. When you team him up with a Muhammad Wilkerson, a Sione Pouha, Mike DeVito, I mean, we really like our group.
On if they knew about Davis' natural leadership when they drafted him…
[Mike] Tannenbaum is a very thorough guy and our scouts do a great job of collecting information. And we bring in guys and we have interviews with them. We brought him into our building and you spend all day with him, coaches have him, scouts have him, you name it, everyone has him, and as we say, all precincts reported and we're all excited about him.
But just talking to him and the way he carries himself, I go back and I think of others and not everybody has it. You can have a list of 500 names up there on a wall, but how many real leaders are up there? It's easy to say this guy was a leader for his football team and all that, but does he have that thing that he can lead men? That's rare and some guys have it.
Ray Lewis had it when he came in. The day he walked into Baltimore, he was the leader of that defense and that was one year before I got there. And that's what they all said and when I got there he was clearly the leader. Like I said, it's strange, but what kind of motivator is Ray Lewis? Ray Lewis motivated me as a coach.
That's rare for a player to do that; have that kind of ability, and I'm not saying Demario is that guy, and there's only one Ray Lewis, but it's interesting. His face, mannerisms, passion, I see some things. It's interesting and when you watch him on the tape, he pops off the tape. He reminds me of a young Bart Scott. He's just full of energy, flying all over the place, and couldn't wait to hit somebody and that's kind of how he reminds me.
On the process of having players become Jets…
Well, that's what we say and we mention it to our guys. We think we're special here and I know we had a bad year, OK, granted, I'll say that with every statement, but I know one thing, we want it to be special to play for the New York Jets. You can play in this league, but can you play for the Jets? Again, we want that attitude, that mentality, that this is the place to be and we want everything you've got. That's what we want and I think that young man understands it. I hope a whole group of these guys understand it because that's what we are shooting for as a team.
On his expectations for Hayden Smith…
Well, you know what's funny? I would not bet against this young man. The success that he's had, granted in other sports, basketball, he tries out and goes and plays rugby a little — hey, let's go play rugby — and he makes the national team. That's pretty rare. And then he goes after he qualifies, these national tournaments, then he goes and plays at the highest level in rugby. So we'll see.
Certainly he's got a great teacher in Mike Devlin and I know Lance [Taylor] is helping him as well. Automatically he's a rugby guy. Those guys are pretty tough, they hit people without helmets on, that's pretty tough putting your face in there. He's got skills like a basketball player, he can catch the football, you saw it today. Now, he almost blocked a punt. I was like, "Oh, he ran into the punter, we've got to work on that a little bit," but I like him.
Is he going to do this right now? I don't think we can say he's going to have an impact immediately, but I'll say this, he's working like he's going to. This guy is studying like crazy, I see him at this facility and he's out there by himself running routes, going through assignments. This guy wants it. He's been successful in other areas, why not? We'll see, but he looked decent out there. It's crazy to think that this guy has never put on a helmet before, never run a route, never did anything like that, and when he's out there, could you really tell that? He certainly looks the part, so he'll be given every opportunity to be a factor for us.
On the natural leadership that Davis shows… It's rare. I'm not going to say he's the leader Ray Lewis is, but there are some things even when he talks to you, wow, he's really an impressive person and he gets it. He's a team guy and he's not an individual guy, he's all about the team and all about business. And these guys, it's amazing when you look at all these guys, so many of them have some amazing stories, and when you get to know him, he's got quite a story of his own as well.