Rex's Tuesday News Conference

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Transcript of Jets head coach Rex Ryan's news conference following Tuesday's midday practice:

First off, obviously a tragedy for Mr. Johnson and his family. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Mr. Johnson and his family.

Some of the injury things, even though I don't need to give you the official report, I'll give it to you anyway. Guys that never practiced today: David Harris with his ankle, Steve Weatherford with a hamstring — that's our punter, by the way, had to check. Thomas Jones and T-Rich [Tony Richardson], we just kept them out today. That's not injury-related, just keeping them rolling. Guys who were limited: Jerricho with a hip, Shaun Ellis with his knee, Ryan Fowler with his head — that's what we've got down here — and then Strickland with a quad. He looked pretty good to me today. The guys that were full: Braylon Edwards with his elbow, Sanchez, knee; and then James Ihedigbo had a stinger today. He looked like he got shot, but he's all right.

On if Ihedigbo practiced during the entire practice…

Yes, he was full. Those last three guys, Braylon, Dig [Ihedigbo] and Sanchez were all full today.

On if David Harris will play on Sunday…

It's too early to tell. He was there for the walkthrough but he did not practice.

On if he's talked to Mr. Johnson…

No. To be honest, this is a private matter, so I'm just not going to talk about it.

On if Harris has a high ankle sprain…

Ankle sprain.

On if Harris will practice Wednesday…

I'm not sure. I think we'll move slowly on it. He's a guy that this is a familiar opponent, so we'll probably give him as much time as he needs.

On if Harris and Ryan Fowler can't play on Sunday…

[Kenwin] Cummings will go in.

On how much he thinks he'll need from Mark Sanchez to beat the Bengals…

Every game is different, but we just need him to be efficient, play the position, and I think he knows that. We have been talking about it long enough. That's our plan. I think we'll be able to make some plays in the passing game. We had the whole game at single-high safety, so that's an ideal situation for most quarterbacks to be in, and Mark is no exception. If that's the way the game is going to be played, then I think we'll be able to make some plays in the passing game.

On how much confidence he sees in Sanchez…

I think he's playing well. The numbers, in those conditions, it was hard. Joe Montana would have struggled in those conditions to put up big numbers. He played the position well, never forced the ball when we had a lead. There's no need to do that. I thought he played really well. I know he's as confident as I've ever seen him and not about this particular opponent, but it's about I know he's got a great grasp of our offense. I think he's comfortable playing with the guys now. This is the second season, so we expect him to be dialed in, and I think he is.

On what challenges the defense will face with Cedric Benson…

I think Cedric Benson has had a great year. He's a hard runner. I don't know exactly what his numbers are, but he's been tremendous. I know a couple of games he missed, so there's no telling his numbers, what they'd be. He's had a great year. There's a lot of confidence that Cincinnati has running with him, so it is going to be a challenge to us. There's no doubt.

On how facing him will be different than last week…

You've just got a guy that's been really productive for them. Maybe they will take the approach of running the ball more. I would anticipate that and try to stay out of third-and-long situations, which is not an ideal situation against us.

On what he is saying to the defense this week about the challenges going forward…

We've just got to play. We go out and play to our capabilities, this is going to be a great game. We know the challenge is there and you're doing it on the road. It will be a big challenge. Every week is going to be a challenge. From here on out, you play against great football teams. To reach our goal, we are going to have to knock off a bunch of good ones.

On how they will compensate for Harris if he cannot play this weekend…

Our team is built to do that. It's about the decal on the side of the helmet. These guys can play. It's about the unit. It's not about the individual. Clearly we would like to have David Harris, because I think he's played better than any inside linebacker in the league this year, so that is a big loss. We have confidence in Ryan and Kenwin that we'll be able to get the job done.

On if the defenses success after losing Kris Jenkins is an illustration of success being about the unit and not the individual…

Absolutely. Here is a guy that we know is one of the premiere interior linemen in the game. His stature alone is pretty intimidating. Kris is a great football player. Sure, you miss him, but you have to go on. I think the pride in the unit and the next man stepping up is things that we believe in and we talk about all the time.

On what the term 'same old Jets' means to him…

Nothing. 'Same old Jets' to me, I go back to when my dad won a Super Bowl his first year. That's fine. Whether people take it in a negative connotation, that's for somebody else. That's definitely not the Jets that I know.

On Mark Sanchez's wearing a wristband…

Sometimes when you're putting in an offense, sometimes you make the guy say it and hear you and say it. Sometimes they can process it and learn it probably a little better. Now, going into these type of situations, where the fans are obviously going to be pumped up and you're playing on the road, it's going to be loud. It's much easier to go No. 3 and he can read it. He should be just fine. I think it's just something that Schotty [Brian Schottenheimer] felt good about making the switch going to the wristband.

On what Shaun Ellis has meant to the team this year…

He's just a pro and everybody knows it around here. It's funny, because the numbers, he has six and a half sacks, but you notice how his peers recognize Shaun as a tremendous football player. I believe he was a second alternate this year in the Pro Bowl. That's the kind of player Shaun is. We have asked him to do a lot of different things. He's had to learn a completely new way of doing things and he's done it humbly. He's just a tremendous player.

The thing about Shaun is he can play in any type of defense. He can play in a head-up 3-4, he can play in a movement 3-4, he can play in a 4-3, inside, outside. Just a tremendous player.

On if it would have been tempting to bench Sanchez when he was struggling if they had a veteran quarterback…

To be honest with you, if you've got Brett Favre on the bench, we would make that trade. We would do that. But we have a lot of confidence in Mark and we always have and we've always felt that he gave us the best opportunity to succeed. One of our missions is to give him the playoffs, and he must have done pretty well because here we are.

On how much they had to work around Sanchez…

I think any time you get a rookie quarterback, it's tough, because you have to feed them a brand new offensive system and at the same time, you also have to teach them the NFL runs these different coverages, as well. There's that fine line there. Mark has been tremendous. He's probably been better than I thought he would be coming in. He's smart. He's competitive. We knew all these things, but I guess just seeing it played out, the sky is the limit for him. It's going to be funny watching how this thing works, because in a year, next year probably, we are going to all be talking about how he's the strength of our team and not looked at him as a negative. I truly believe it's just a matter of time before that happens.

On how difficult it for a rookie quarterback to get in to the playoffs…

It is tough because there's so much placed on the quarterback. Not only do you have to know your position, you have to know the left guard has this responsibility. You've got to know everybody's responsibility, and it's brand new to you, and oh, by the way, you have to be able to read coverages. It's definitely hard to do. The two guys you mentioned before, I was around Joe Flacco and I'm sure Matt Ryan, as well. That's about the only Ryan I don't like after what happened to us, but give the guy some credit. Those guys are mature. They love football. You have to have a guy that's committed to the game and understands that a lot is going to be asked of him. There is no question about it. You have to be able to handle it mentally, as well as physically. It's quite a challenge.

On if it was tougher for Sanchez because he plays in New York…

That's an interesting point, because you're right, not everybody can play in this market. There are a lot easier places to play than here. That was part of the reason why there might be some guys with physical abilities that you really like, but for this market, you have to have the right guy. Somebody that can handle it and understand that he's going to get criticized, and maybe unjustly so. That's part of this business and it's part of playing quarterback in New York.

On Shonn Greene stepping up after Leon Washington's injury...

We all knew he was a great talent. We had him as a first-round grade when he came out. He's really talented at running the football. When he had the injury in training camp, he had that nagging ankle injury, I wasn't sure how much we would really get out of him. I had a plan that we would really be ground and pound and that he would really be a heavy part of what we do, our success. Once he had the ankle, I said, 'Oh, he's going to back off.' Then when he had that injury to Leon, he had to step into that role and the kid has taken off. He really is a tremendous runner of the football.

On if was an organizational decision to start Sanchez…

We were going to have an open competition for the position. We felt good going in with Mark. We knew he had the ability to compete for the job, and we felt good about Kellen Clemens. That was what we knew going into it, in training camp, that it would be best for both guys and it really was. It was good for everybody. Was it a thing that we definitely decided on? We never knew we were going to get him. We had no idea that we were going to be able to get Mark. We had to make a trade and somebody could have taken him before we picked. Like I said, it was going to be open competition.

On how concerned he is with Greene fumbling the ball…

The thing that gets you is the kid never fumbled in college. I see him, he protects the football out here, but mentally he's got to know he's not a fumbler. That's the thing, he is not a fumbler. He's got to understand that and just hit it because there are times where he does some impressive things on the field, but you've got to protect the football, especially when you're carrying it as many times as he is and knowing now that teams are going to be gunning for you.

On if it is a mental thing for Greene…

Yeah, it's almost like that don't fumble or don't do something like that. He's got to get that out. To me, he needs to look at it as stick it in the end zone. All that other stuff, forget it. Just pound them and that's the way you have to approach it. He knows how to carry the football.

On what he told Green on Sunday after he fumbled the ball..

That's the exact thing I said: "Let's go, kid, pound it. Ground and pound. Let's go, baby." That's it. Like I said, he knows how to carry it. I think we said we were going to pound him if he does fumble it again. I think we slipped that in there also.

On the "ground and pound" mentality…

I think you can look at Cincinnati, as well. That wins in this league. If you can run the football, you've got a great chance to win in this league. Obviously, there's a lot of things that go with it. You've got to be able to be efficient in the passing game and you have to be able to play defense. Those are things I honestly thought going into it that the strength of our team was in our offensive line and our running game. I'm happy with it. I don't know if I thought we would average, 170 yards a game, but I did think we could run it. Our guys certainly haven't disappointed us. Did we also lead the league in carries or attempts? I'm sure we did. That was outstanding.

On how much of Leon Washington's role in the Wildcat can now be put on Brad Smith…

He even gives you more flexibility because he can take the snap directly from the center, where Leon had to be off the ball some. Brad cannot replace what Leon did as a true running back with it or in pass protection. Leon is a special player and so is Brad. They are just different. They really are different.

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