Show me you're a Jet.
That was head coach Rex Ryan's message to WR David Clowney, who was deactivated for the Titans game.
"I put David down this week. That was my decision, nobody else's," Ryan said at his news conference this afternoon the day after the Jets improved to 3-0 with their 24-17 win over Tennessee. "I wanted to see how David would respond.
"David had two options. He could have come down and been upset and pouted, or he could come out and be a Jet and work his tail off and show me that he wants to do it our way."
After the Jets' Week 2 win over the Patriots, Clowney expressed via his Twitter account that he was "a bit disappointed" concerning his playing time in the game, what he said was a total of five plays.
The coach said he told Clowney early last week that he would be deactivated for the Titans.
"To me it's like this is about our team," said Ryan, "understanding that it's about our team and that no one individual is bigger than the team."
That's the impact that Ryan is trying to make, putting no player above another in building a team atmosphere. And Clowney responded with his play during last week's practices.
"He was phenomenal this week in preparation — in fact, I'll give him the 'scout team player of the week,' " Ryan said. "He humbled himself and that was it.
"He has no reason not being up. He's too talented, too athletic, too fast not to be a guy that we can count on down after down. Nobody's a bigger fan of David Clowney than I am."
Clowney's tweets in the recent week have looked look like this:
"My team always comes first so I'ma just keep grinding ... And we gonna keep winning."
"Its Titans week,.. Watch my team get stronger and stronger every game."
That's how Ryan thinks it should be. He was also asked about safety Eric Smith, who he admitted he wasn't high on after the first veterans minicamp in April but since then has been very impressed with.
"Eric is a guy that's been a starter in this league. We just asked to put that behind him, be the best special teams player you can be, be the best defensive player you can be in totally a different role, and yet no questions, straight ahead," Ryan said.
"Coming out of that first minicamp, I mean, I'm no dummy. He had the best minicamps after that point of anybody on our team. We brought in Jim Leonhard to be a starter, so I can understand him being down in the dumps. But to his credit after the first minicamp I think he decided that he was going to show us the kind of player he was and I'm glad he did because all of us have great deal of respect for the job that Eric can do."
Smith, in his fourth Jets season, started 10 games at safety, including six games last season. He was instrumental in the win Sunday, recording four tackles, an interception and a pass breakup on defense and adding two special teams tackles.
Through three games this year, Smith has recorded almost half as many tackles on defense (15) as he did in nine games last season. He has six ST tackles compared to seven all last season.
"The thing is with Smitty, he is so valuable for us on defense," said Ryan. "We put him everywhere. He can play linebacker, which he did in the game — at times he covered Alge Crumpler, the big tight end — and then we put him on the running back, we put him underneath on wideouts in coverage, we put him in zone, put him on top playing safety, used him as a blitzer. There are so many things you can do with him."
The Corners' Injuries
Smith's playing time might have been elevated slightly with two key players missing from the secondary — Lito Sheppard (quad) and Donald Strickland (ankle).
"Those two are way better this week than they were last week at this time," Ryan said. "I was hoping that we could get one of them, at least, to play in this past game, but that never happened. We'll see how it goes. It's too early to tell if they'll be ready.
"We certainly could use either one of them or both of them in this game," the coach said about Sunday's date at New Orleans. "We know they've got an outstanding passing game as well as a great running attack. I wish we had everybody on deck. We'll see if that's the case or not."