Rex's Wednesday News Conference

Transcript of Jets head coach Rex Ryan's news conference before Wednesday afternoon's training camp practice at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center:

What is this day three of walkthrough action? I know we're all fired up about it again. I have to lead with that, I apologize again for the walkthrough. Really nothing to report, so just fire away.

On how excited he is to see the guys who haven't been able to practice yet…

Well, I'm still not sure on the rules if they can practice or not [joking] but it'll be great. Get guys going. It'll be fun to put the pads on and here we go. Then you know officially training camp and football has started.

On Eric Smith's and Wayne Hunter's development since Ryan became head coach…

It was funny because Eric I thought, well, OK, we have this player, that player starting in the position. We picked up Jimmy Leonhard, we had Kerry Rhodes at the time, so I felt great about our safety situations. I was just like, you know, this guy I think is a decent player. But what I didn't know was everything that he brings to the table.

When you look at it, the first thing that jumps out at you is his intelligence. I went back and looked at the scores and it was ridiculous. I had to take it five times to match it. It really is off the charts. I think the league ought to do a challenge, where you put your best guy out there and have like Jeopardy. We'll choose any of our players to go and represent us. Eric Smith, go ahead. Just go ahead and represent us, but we'll choose anybody. But the guy is just really sharp in everything. Not just football but you name it. So that jumped out at me.

The fact that this guy is a hitter, he has range. You know what we can do. We blitz him, we do different things, play zone, play man, do all those kind of things. Obviously he grew on me quickly. That first minicamp, I think he was just so "Why am I running with the third team?" and then he just decided, "You know what, I'm going to show them." I think that really is what happened and he did because from that point on he was impressive. He might have been the best player in all those minicamps we had my first year.

And then when you look at it, Eric has always been a starter-caliber-type safety but he does so many things for us on special teams and all these other things that you'd prefer him in all those roles. But now it's just going to be, you know what? He's going to start. We're going to get him off kickoff return. You can write that down, that he will not go out on kickoff return. And if [Mike] Westhoff is waiting for him, because I know he's listed him on the depth chart as a starter, then we're going to have 10 out there. Because I told him that I'll give him one break on special teams and that'll be on kickoff return so he will not be on that group. I have to break that to Westhoff. But he's such a valuable player for us and it's great to see that. And it also shows that, you know what? It's not that the roster is always set because every year somebody comes up and surprises you.

And you mentioned Wayne Hunter. We really liked Wayne, even when I got here, I thought he was a terrific player. We even used him as a tight end some, just trying to get him on the field. He just happened to backup two great tackles. Now he had that chance, when [Damien Woody] went down, it gave an opportunity to showcase how really good he was and Wayne did a tremendous job for us. We like to take care of ours. We know our players and we want to keep our players and I've stressed that for a long time but we also will do what is in the best interest of the organization, but ideally that's keeping your own guys.

On if the right tackle spot is Wayne Hunter's to lose or an open competition…

It's Wayne's. I think Vlad [Ducasse] is coming though. He is much more comfortable at tackle and I think Vlad is going to be a tremendous player. Just like Wayne was, we'll see about the development and all that. He has to be ready to be a starter and I think we're all excited about the direction he's going.

On what the team will do if the CBA is not ratified Thursday and certain players cannot practice…

Well, we'll adjust like always. We're ready for anything. It'll be unfortunate, but if it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen and we'll make the appropriate adjustments.

On how important it will be to have Calvin Pace healthy for a full season…

At the end of the season, his foot was 20% healed. Most guys would not be out there, but I was shocked when I heard that. I mean he was out there gutting through it. We think he's got 10-sack-season potential. He has that kind of ability, there's no doubt. And he has some rare cover skills for an outside linebacker. Calvin is a huge part of what we do. You're right, we missed him for four games the first year and maybe six last year, he had that injury. To have him a full season certainly will be huge for us, and healthy.

On if Plaxico Burress reminds him of Calvin Johnson…

He's just one of those big, huge guys. I can see where you get that from. I don't think he has that kind of speed, but his body control and how physical he is, it's hard from me to really say, "He's like this guy." He was a matchup nightmare. You'd put one guy on him and you could just forget it, he'd catch it. From a blocking standpoint, he gets after it.

One of my favorite players of all time is Samari Rolle, and they're friends. The way he hit Samari one time we played the Giants, and he knocked Samari by me. I said, "Dude, is it really necessary to hit him that hard?" and Samari was thinking the same thing. But what are you going to do, swing at him? Then you'd have to fight him.

He's really hard [to find a comparison for]. Is it Harold Carmichael? I don't know. He's so physical as blocker as well, that's maybe a combination of the way Braylon Edwards was here and Harold Carmichael.

On how long will it take Plaxico to shake the rust off…

Obviously, we'll lean on the trainers to make sure that we're not over doing it with him. We want him ready to beat Dallas on opening day, that's our main target. Get him ready to do that. Does that mean we are going to back off with some reps? Sure. Does that mean we are going to have to lean on guys to step in there and help him? Sure. You can't expect him to learn the entire playbook overnight. The thing that I like is, his blocking will be the same. That's just about the heart and I can't wait to see that. We'll definitely be smart with him.

On why players with past issues seem to be successful here…

We've all made mistakes before. If you come here, we welcome you with open arms, we respect you. Like I've said, everyone has made mistakes in their life, every single person. Some are probably a little more public than others.

On if Shonn Greene can carry the load in the run game…

I think he's ready. I don't think there's any doubt he's ready. The other thing is, I want to keep [LaDainian Tomlinson] fresh for that third down responsibility and then hammer teams with Shonn. Let's not forget Joe McKnight. Joe McKnight came a million miles and he's ready to go. So we're going to have some explosiveness out of him and we'll see about this [Bilal] Powell. You know me, I love to fire a fresh one at you.

But to start with, I'm thinking the plan is you're going to get a heavy dose of Shonn Greene. And he's catching the ball much better than he has. Which isn't saying much from when he first got here [laughing]. Remember that? It was like "Somebody make two guys run to the same spot and play the deflection." But no, he's catching the ball well now.

On the development of Joe McKnight…

We saw it all last year. We just saw him getting better and getting better and he was ready to go. This guy played both ways on the scout team, playing cornerback and all that. I think we have the best running back coach in football in Anthony Lynn and he does a great job of teaching.

Similar to the job when Tiki [Barber] had the fumbling problems and Tom Coughlin really worked with him on protecting that ball, keeping that nose up and everything else. I saw Joe doing it and he took it to heart that he's going to protect this football and he did it. But he is so explosive. It was tempting late in the year and as we got in the playoffs, shouldn't we play this kid more? It was one of those type of deals because he has that game-breaking type of speed.

On what he sees in Kenrick Ellis…

Well, like I mentioned yesterday, you can't coach 6'5" 350. You cannot coach that, but the good thing about him is that he moves well. This is a big guy that moves well, he practices hard, and now, does his technique have to come? Absolutely. But I've been impressed with him. Mentally, he made one mistake on an alignment. And then today, I saw him out there and he's got his little wristband on, so he's making sure that he's ready to go.

I like the way he's approached his job, and I think that he's going to have a good presence in there. Obviously we have a great nose tackle, with Sione [Pouha] and this guy can add to what we already have. I think there's a spot where, he won't be rushed in there, but don't be surprised if he's playing early for us too.

On what it would mean to him and LaDainian Tomlinson to win a championship ring…

That's probably the only thing he hasn't done. He's done everything else. From an individual standpoint, his accomplishments: he's in the record books, he's done it all. Everything. Except win a Super Bowl. The fact that he came here, he wanted to stay here, he wanted to help the team out. For a first-ballot Hall of Famer, that was impressive. It just shows what it means to win a championship.

That's why, and I know I get criticized but I really don't care. Quite honestly, that's why we do what we do. We're going to put in that kind of work. Clearly he's made enough money to ride off into the sunset with an unbelievable reputation, yet he wants that championship more than anything. That's what drives us all, I think.

On how important it was to sign David Harris to a long-term contract…

Now I can be real honest about David, because we know how that worked out with me and [Darrelle] Revis [laughter]. I think clearly he's one of the top linebackers in football. There's absolutely no question. Let's face it, if we don't get him this contract there's a billion teams lined up to do the same thing. He is a tremendous player. You only have so much air and you got Bart Scott right beside you so he takes up most of it. But David and Bart: I think that's about as good as it gets.

On James Ihedigbo and if the team might bring him back…

Well, I think it's a possibility. With Mike [Tannenbaum] we're looking at everything out there, for what's in the best interest of the football team. Obviously he has been spectacular on special teams for us and has been a contributor on our defense. He's a guy who everybody likes and appreciates in the locker room. He has that toughness that we talk about. So I would say that there would be an interest from our part.

On other Jets free agents that Ryan would like to have back…

If Braylon wants to come for what we can pay then come on back, Braylon. Shaun, we've talked about — all of them. There isn't one guy — Brodney Pool, come on back — because there isn't one guy that we let go that we wouldn't have liked to have back. We have a lot of good football players. They play the way we like to play. That's the tough part about this business. Sometimes you get attachment and things like that, but at the end of the day you have to do what's in the best interest of your football team, with that goal in mind. And that's it, so there are some tough decisions. Every year there are tough decisions.

On what he has seen from Muhammad Wilkerson thus far…

I think this guy, the pads are one thing, but the way he and Brick are going at it pretty good with each other, he looks like he already belongs. When you get to see the afternoon practices you can see that. Most of the time you have a rookie out there, a coach is always on him. It's like you have 12 guys on the field because the coach is two feet behind the guy because he's making this mistake, that mistake and all that. This young man is not. He's smart, he's studying and he's playing physical. That's what you want.

I think he's not intimidated by anything. He's a tough New Jersey kid. It's kind of neat when you get a New Jersey guy as well. New York, New Jersey, we get our own kind of kids here. That's great. I saw his mom out at practice the other day. That's kind of a neat deal.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content

Advertising