Rex's Thursday News Conference

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Transcript of Jets head coach Rex Ryan's news conference Thursday afternoon:

Today, first off, I'd like to talk a little bit about Kerry Rhodes, and let you guys know that I did talk to Kerry. As we've said earlier, the prosecutor's office has stated that Kerry is not a target of any criminal investigation. Any questions regarding this matter or anything close to it, I'm going to refer back to the prosecutor's office.

On a lighter note, I'd like to talk about our OTAs and the progress that we're making. I think you see the tempo — I'm sure you see it out there. The guys are running around and they're starting to figure this out, how to take care of each other, yet still play physical, run to the football on defense and finish plays on offense. It's exciting. The offense sometimes has better moments than the defense and vice versa.

It's an exciting time, I think. My expectations of this football team are warranted, I really think they are. We've got a lot of outstanding players. We've got a great coaching staff. I sit there and I'm like 'Wow, this is my football team.' It feels like my football team now. You know, I feel better, like the players are starting to trust me a little bit more, or I'm starting to know them a little bit more, maybe that's it. It feels good, it really does, and I'm excited about the future of our team.

One thing I'd like to also note: Probably the best play today had to be Kellen Clemens' wife, Nicole. Like any good football wife, she waited until after practice to go into labor, so we're proud of her. I just want to make that note. If you saw him running off the field the last couple minutes, that was why.

Thomas Jones is out here. He reminds me of myself the way he's built and all that kind of stuff [laughter]. But it's great to see him, it really is. I've always respected the kind of player he is and all that, and just to see him up close, wow, this guy is really built, he's good. He told me he's happy to be here, and I told him I'm certainly happy that he's here. That's exciting to have him back here.

On any danger that players may take advantage of a less strict environment…

I think you've got to be a little bit more specific, because quite honestly I think your perception is maybe a little different than maybe what the actual thing is. With our players, are we going to play loose, are we going to fly to the football, are we going to play with reckless abandon? We absolutely are, but I think our football team will be one of the most disciplined teams in the National Football League and that's the way it's always been.

On any danger of players taking advantage of a less strict environment off the field…

Well, off the field, I still don't understand. Maybe I've got it wrong, but our football team is a disciplined football team. I'm proud of the players we have. I'm proud of all our players. Are they going to be treated like men? Absolutely.

On if he has spoken to Thomas Jones about staying with the Jets…

No, I haven't. You'd have to ask Thomas that question.

On Jones being absent at voluntary workouts…

I think he's got that right, right? I mean, that's his right to do that. I think you'd have to refer to Thomas about that. These are voluntary workouts. I'm just excited that he's here.

On if he has had any discussions with Jones on why he has been absent…

No, I just sat there and gave him a hug and said, "All right, kid, go ahead." You stay out of a bunch of this stuff. It was more the fact that I was excited that he was here. Would I have liked to have seen him here the first day of OTAs and going through all the lifting and everything else with his teammates? Of course I would. Again, right now, I'm focused on let's move forward and I'm excited he's here.

On the practice collision involving David Harris…

He got a helmet in the mouth. He actually decided to field a punt along with Jim Leonhard. He was standing out of bounds and a kid punted one just out, Jimmy ran full speed and there was a collision. He's going to do fine. He's here. I just saw him. I did tell him, "You're not a handsome guy anyway." A scary thing but he's doing fine.

On if Harris lost any teeth…

No, they were able to save all his teeth, I think, so that's good.

On if either of the Jets punters will be punting when the season starts…

I'm going to have to refer that to Mike Westhoff [laughing]. Mike, I think, has got a good grasp of it. He feels confident about them and Kevin [O'Dea], and that makes me feel better. I certainly don't know anything about punting. I saw what you guys saw today and I was like, whoo, that's it. Avoid the bad ball. If we can punt with any kind of consistency, we're going to be just fine.

Both those guys, as you saw today, have huge legs. They had hang times close to five seconds, some over five. They had some rockets, so that's exciting to see. You'd love to have a punter that can change field position, and both these guys have that kind of ability. It's just right now we're working on the consistency. I certainly think both of them have the ability to be good punters in this league and over time we'll give them that opportunity and let them compete and we'll see what happens.

On Mark Sanchez's play in this week's OTAs…

We only had the two practices. The thing that I was really encouraged with that you saw at the end there, the two-minute, and even in mock situations where he makes the throw to score a touchdown there right at the end, that was good. The practice you guys weren't at on Wednesday, he threw [well]. They ran a 7-route, a corner route if you will, laid the ball in perfect for another touchdown, a deep pass.

I think he's getting more confident. I think the guys feel good about him. They certainly harass him enough and all that kind of stuff and [defensive coordinator Mike] Pettine and all of his gang over there are definitely trying to make it difficult on this guy. It's not "Hey, look, you're going to get Cover-3, you're going to get Cover-2" and baby steps. They're throwing him right to the wolves, and I like the way he's responding.

On if there is a limit on how far you can push a young QB…

You can't tell that other team "Can you just play Cover-3, can you just play this and that?" So let's go. College is over. He's going to have to pick it up. I think the next thing that we'll have to do is get him more of a sense of urgency before the ball is snapped because he certainly has it when he gets the ball in his hands and all that kind of stuff, but start coming out there, it's like OK, let's speed it up a little bit. I know [Brian] Schottenheimer has been on him quite a bit about speeding that tempo up.

I don't know if you guys noticed that drill that Brian does and Matt Cavanaugh does with the quarterbacks, where they both drop together and then they're running mirrored routes. It's a competition to see who can get the ball out fastest. Anytime you can compete, plus they're right next to each other, so you're kind of feeling that thing, "Well, he's dropping back, now he's going to do different things."

I think it's the best drill I've ever seen. Not that I've seen a bunch of drills with quarterbacks, but this one is an amazing drill, always moving it, throwing all the routes known to man out there to the wideouts first, then the tight ends, then the backs. It's just an incredible thing to see. I think drills like at that are just going to really help both those guys.

On what Pettine brings to the defense…

I always say Mike Pettine is the smartest guy I've ever been around in coaching, he really is. There's a lot of things this guy could be doing in life. Right now, he just happens to be one of the best football coaches in the country. He's energetic, he's a great teacher. I think the guys really respond to him.

He grew up in the same situation I did. His dad was a legendary coach and that can be tough sometimes on a guy. He's a tough guy, but the players respect him. They all know that he's as smart a guy as they've been around, too. I'm sure you can ask them that. We're fortunate to have him.

It's funny because we had a lot of excellent coaches in Baltimore, but there's the guy, and John [Harbaugh] even knew that "I have to give you Pettine," because I almost feel like this was my guy, that I almost discovered him. Which is not fair, but I knew right away that I always wanted him with me. I think he's an outstanding coach. I keep bragging about our staff because it's so easy to do. I'm not going to say too many good things about him because I want him to be with me for a long time.

On Jones' attendance for minicamp and training camp…

I want him to be here. Obviously, I want them all to be here, but I'm not a guy that it's voluntary-mandatory. That's not where we're at right now. This is a voluntary camp and the fact he's here is really encouraging to me. You'll have to ask him. Is he here because he wants to show off to me? Maybe so, because he looks the part, and I've been impressed, there's no question about that.

On if Jones said he's happy to be here…

That's what Thomas told me. Thomas told me he's happy to be here, and I'm certainly happy he's here. That's exciting. Is he happy with everything? You'd have to ask Thomas. I know he's happy to be on the football field with his teammates. Does that mean he's going to be here next week and all that? I really can't answer that question.

On any indication from GM Mike Tannenbaum that the reason he was absent has been resolved…

I think you'll have to ask Thomas that. I'm not going to speak for Thomas or anything. We all expected him to be here this week because of the Twitter and all that other stuff that we laugh about, that only you guys have read. It was good to see. I certainly hope that he's here for the rest of it. That would be great, because I know his teammates get excited that Thomas is there, and they know the kind of player he is, they know the kind of leader he is, and it's fun to watch.

On how the organization goes forward not knowing for sure if Jones will be there...

It's my understanding that Thomas is under contract, OK? This is a voluntary camp and all that kind of stuff. When it's mandatory, he's going to be here in a mandatory camp. I truly believe that. I think you'd have to ask Thomas. I know Thomas feels good about being around his teammates and being on that field playing. I know he feels good about that. That's just the kind of person he is. Now, I'm not going to speak for Thomas at all when it comes to the other situations, personal things or whatever. I don't think that's smart for me to do.

On if it helps seeing what Leon Washington can do first-hand…

Well, it did help. You get an idea. Obviously, you're watching film, but when you see it up close and personal, you get a great idea of how he is around his teammates and all that kind of stuff, the kind of player he is and the kind of person he is. You know, it's unfortunate that Leon is not here right now, but shoot, he did show a lot.

That's what I'm seeing right now in Thomas. I see what his teammates say about him, the kind of inspiration he is to the football team and all that. I certainly see that, but I need to see that. I'm going on somebody else's opinion. I'm glad he's here, that I can see him up close and personal, and that's a good thing.

On one or two guys not being here and practices being in effect mandatory…

That's maybe your take on it. We see it as a voluntary camp. I see it as the players wanting to be here, being around their coaches, being around their teammates. That's how I view it, and that's a positive thing.

I'm encouraged that there's only one or two guys that aren't here. I'll bet you you can look at any of these camps, and the voluntary camps are having the exact same camps we are, yet maybe half their team is here. Yet with us, you look at it, one or two guys are not here, that's it. That's another reason I'm so excited about it. I'm not sitting back saying you absolutely have to be here. I have not said that one time. I'd prefer that everybody is here, but I have not said that, not one time.

On the concern that unhappiness with a contract can create a decrease in effort…

You've got to talk to Thomas about any of those kind of situations. I know the kind of competitor Thomas is, the kind of football player he is. He did score 15 touchdowns last year and led the AFC in rushing. This is a man. He puts that ball under his arm and he wants it, he wants to carry it and to me he's an outstanding pro. Everything else off the field, I think you've got to ask Thomas those questions. I'm certainly happy he's here as a football player.

On if there has been one or two receivers distancing themselves from the rest…

It's almost how you kind of expect, that there's moments you think it's [David] Clowney, there's moments you think it's [Chansi] Stuckey. Everybody has had their moments, but you're looking. It's just like David today had some drops and all that stuff, and we haven't seen that out of David. Stuckey just seems like he makes plays all the time, every time he's in there. It's encouraging, but to say that somebody has really pulled out in the lead, I don't think you can say that yet.

On what he likes about WR Huey Whittaker

He has size, speed, all that, he really does. He's had his moments, too. That's a big, fast target. I like the way he practices. He practices hard. He's a young receiver that seems to be getting better. I'm encouraged by him.

On the wide receivers…

I feel good about our receivers. I think we can compete with our receivers. There's no doubt that I feel confident in this group. Our system may be different than if we're going to throw it 50 times a game. It's probably not who we are. I think in the type of offense that we have and Brian Schottenheimer and Bill [Callahan] and everybody has put together over there, I certainly feel confident with our guys.

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