Rex Ryan Press Conference Transcript 8/5/11

On Friday New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan addressed the media.  Here is the transcript courtesy of the Jets.

On whether he is concerned about the experience at wide receiver…

That is true. We do have some inexperience there at some of the backup spots. And then, obviously, starter and slot and things. I think you guys have seen, as well as I do, that (Jeremy) Kerley’s got a chance, I think, to be something special. And then we’re battling with a bunch of other guys that are good. You got Patrick Turner, you got Logan Payne, you got Scotty McKnight, you got others there, as well. I think it’s going to be great competition. Does that mean we’re not up to, maybe a veteran coming in here? No, you know how we do things with Mike (Tannenbaum) and then we’re always looking to upgrade our football team, and if that’s a possibility, we’ll certainly go for it.

On whether it would have been in the best interest of the Jets to hold onto WR Jerricho Cotchery until they found a replacement…

I’m a man of my word, and if I say something, then I’ll do it. If I tell you that we would give you permission to seek a trade or release you if we had picked up somebody, then that’s what we’re going to do. We’ll be okay one way or another, but if I give you my word, then that’s what it is. You have my word. That’s why I tried to explain about the Derrick Mason thing. It wasn’t like we were signing Derrick and letting Jerricho go. That was not it. I, obviously, would like to get Derrick right now, but he’s got other teams, he’s got other things like that, and I’m sure he’d have to leave money on the table to come here.

On whether there was an update on WR Plaxico Burress’ ankle…

Well, you guys saw he went through walkthru, so he started in walkthru today (joking). But we’re going to be smart. I know he’s itching to go and things, but we’re going to be smart. He’s still got some swelling in the ankle, and by the way, I think it’s the left ankle. So, I think he’s got some swelling there still, so we’re going to make sure we’re cautious with that.

On whether Burress will practice today…

I’m saying he won’t, but if he jumps in there (joking)… Really, we’re going to be smart about it. When the trainer tells me, “absolutely not,” he’s going to do some things with our strength coach Bill Hughan. And we’ll see how he goes from there.

On if RB LaDainian Tomlinson has enough left in the tank for another season…

We know he does. He had almost 1,000 yards rushing last year. (He) played great in the playoffs, so we know he’s definitely got a lot left in the tank. I just think his role now is being primarily a third-down back where he doesn’t have to take the grind of being a first and second-down back, on a down-after-down basis, will be good for him.

On whether he believes Tomlinson is a security blanket for QB Mark Sanchez…

Yeah, absolutely. And the other thing, too, is LT is great at picking up protections. He’s smart, he’s recognized everything, and he does a great job in protection.

On whether he planned on using Tomlinson as a third-down back last season…

Not necessarily. To me, in an ideal world, I wanted to split the carries, and get through the year, where we have two, fresh and healthy backs at the end of the year, and that’s what happened. With that in mind, also developing Joe (McKnight). This year, I kind of see it as, having Shonn (Greene) be that guy, as I call him, the bell cow, first and second down, with LT moving to the third down role, having Joe back up in both areas, third down and first and second, and then bringing along (Bilal) Powell. So we’ll see how he progresses, as well. We think we’re loaded in the backfield.

On Tomlinson’s value as leader…

I think that’s the bonus plan. You get a guy that has so much more to give. A lot of these great veteran players provide that, because he’s been there, done that. They were the hotshot kid right out of college. They’ve been there, the growing pains through your rookie year and all that kind of stuff. The maturation and all of that, guys looking up to him as a leader, just like they do (Damien Woody). That’s a great part of this game. Having those veteran players and that kind of presence really adds to your team.

On whether he is concerned about losing leadership from last year’s team…

I think concerned isn’t the appropriate word. Obviously, I recognize the leadership that these men brought to our team, there’s no question about it. We have other leaders here, as well. But the one thing about this is, this is a Jet family, and we’re a team. Even the year before, when there was question about, well, we lost great Jets and great teammates, Alan Faneca, Thomas Jones, Jay Feely and a bunch of them. This is the league, it’s what we’re in now. Sometimes you can’t keep everybody. Sometimes guys are moving on for bigger paydays, sometimes they choose to leave. Other times, it’s time for guys to leave. That’s just the way the game is. That’s the cold, hard facts about this. If not, I’d still have the exact same team that we had two years ago, because I believed in every one of those guys that have come in this building. That’s the tough part about this job. We want to be world champs. We’ve made that clear, but guess what? It’s not just lip service, we’re trying to do it. There are a lot of guys that I would love to have back, okay? But that’s not what it is. A lot of times the players make that decision, and as much as I try, sometimes I’m not successful about getting guys back.

On the response from players to Sanchez being named team captain…

I think it’s been terrific. It has been absolutely terrific. The thing, and it’ll be interesting when you ask (Damien Woody) this. When guys know that your quarterback is the hardest working player in the locker room, through mental preparation, offseason preparation and all that, it’s hard not to respect that. The fact that he helped lead us from come-from-(behind in) games last year, and was stronger in the fourth quarter and then in the postseason, also builds that leadership and credibility. So, he’s been outstanding. He’s jumped guys when they run the wrong route, even the protection is corrected. It’s not just jumping, he’s corrected them. He knows all of the positions now, where you’re supposed to be at, and that’s impressive.

On if he thinks there will be a big difference in Sanchez’s play between this year and last year…

Yes I do.

On if Sanchez is the unquestioned leader of the team…

I think everybody sees him as that leader now. I think everybody recognizes that.

On Brad Smith leaving the Jets for Buffalo…

Brad, I always said there’s only one coordinator in football that can stop him, and that was (Brian Schottenheimer). Now we’re going to see if Pettine can stop him. I have so much respect for Brad, \another great teammate. Somebody brought up that he only caught four passes. But he does way more than just catch four passes. The guy averaged almost eight yards per carry last year. I thought he should have gone to the Pro Bowl as a returner. He’s a great player. But again, in our situation, we had 19 guys that were free agents. I told you at the end of the year that I wanted to keep everybody. We weren’t able to do that, but we certainly tried.

On special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff’s reaction to losing Brad Smith…

Well, when you (lose) one of the best special teams players in the league, I’m sure he wasn’t real thrilled with that.

On Shaun Ellis visiting the Patriots yesterday…

Well, he knows he’ll have to strap it on tight going against us. He’ll be ready, there’s no doubt, but we’ll be ready for him if he’s over there. That’s the business. You get to make your decision, so we’ll see what happens. But I’ll tell you this, our young guys are going to be ready. You all saw the practices I saw yesterday. We have a couple of young guys. When you add to your defensive line Muhammad Wilkerson who is 6’4 ½ and 310 (pounds), you add Kenrick Ellis, 6’5”, 350 (pounds) and you add Ropati (Pitoitua) who is 6’9”, 6’10” whatever it is and 310 pounds, we got bigger. And we got young. Obviously, you can’t buy that experience but these guys are players. We’ll see what happens, but we’ll see if Shaun goes to New England. Obviously, I can’t say that I wish him the best because that wouldn’t be true if he goes to New England. Now if he went to Dallas I would say that, that’s true.

On if there is still interest between the Jets and Shaun Ellis…

There’s always interest in us with everybody that we had on our football team because I think every one of them can play and are good teammates. Every single one of those guys.

On if there were any injuries at practice yesterday…

We had, I can’t think of his name, number 56, the German kid from Central Michigan. I remember all that, but it starts with a B (Matthias Berning). The funny thing, he’s been impressive in camp, but you have to know who you’re up against and we know who did it (John Conner). So he just kind of got dinged in the head or something. I don’t know how or if it’s a concussion or not, but we’re going to be cautious. The kid thinks he’s fine, no headaches, no nothing, but we’re going to be very, very cautious with that.

Closing Remarks…

Now I would like to say a couple comments about (Damien Woody) here. He has a few things he wants to say, but (he’s) a tremendous player. I don’t know if people realize how competitive (Damien) is because he always has that smile on his face. (He’s) a guy that is going to be involved in this game for a long, long time. He’d get the tough assignments, all that kind of stuff and never flinch one bit. (He’s) one of the great centers in the game, a Pro Bowl center. He really could have been a Pro Bowl tackle. He played guard, did all of it. You can fit him across the line anywhere you want, and that’s unusual. (He’s) smart, tough, competitive. Just a great football player. So I’m going to turn it over to (Damien). And (he’s) a great person.


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