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Rex Ryan Interview Transcript

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Courtesy NY Jets PR Department

Transcript of Jets head coach Rex Ryan’s news conference after Saturday’s morning rookie minicamp practice:

On if anyone jumped out at him from this morning’s practice…

I spent some time with the offensive line today. Bill Callahan jumped out at me today [laughter]. What a great teacher he is. I like some of the guys down there. I saw our big draft choice, the kid from Nebraska [Matt Slauson]. I was reading a bio on him the other day; I guess he was All-Conference for three years. That is saying something out there. He is a big man. A normal size person to me is 6’3″, 280, I don’t think that is what it is out in the public, but you are around him and you’re like “How big is that kid?” He’s like 6’9″, 350. Are you kidding me? [laughs]

It was good to watch them really work. That offensive line is so much of your character as a football team. I love the way Callahan coaches. He is a tough guy and he really makes those guys work. They are not just eating the grass, they are really working out there.

On his interaction with Matt Slauson…

I watched some tape on him. I have not really sat down and talked to the young man. You can tell he is a good worker. Bill obviously had him in Nebraska and he is really familiar with him. That is good enough for me.

On what he likes about Jamaal Westerman of Rutgers…

A lot of times when you have a defensive lineman — a guy that is used to having his hand in the dirt all the time — the transition to a linebacker spot is difficult. The biggest part of it is the mental part of the game. They start talking about coverages that are totally foreign to a lot of those guys. But with him, he picked it up better than any of the other linebackers, so this guy is pretty sharp. A lot of times, that does not happen. I was impressed with that.

We knew he had some physical traits we really liked. He loves to play, he’s a passionate guy. He had a good motor at Rutgers and was coached well. He is a physical player, so I think when the pads go on he is even going to raise his level.

On if Westerman was high on the Jets’ post draft radar…

He definitely was. He is a guy we really went after. I think the young man turned down almost $12,000 to go somewhere else to stay here. I think he liked our style of play and he knew he fit our style of temperament. He wanted to be a Jet and we are proud to take him.

On what position Westerman played in college…

He played down in college. Right now he is playing Sam linebacker for us, over the tight end. He definitely has a chance. He has to keep it up. We will be firing a lot of things at him but so far he seems to be on top of it very well.

On what he looks for from undrafted free agents and tryout players…

Like anyone else, we want to see the passionate guy that just loves to play the game and can’t get enough of it because this is a tough business. All of the practices and all of the preparation to play in this league and to play for us on top of that, it is going to take a great commitment from a young man.

And I told them this, too. There are going to be some guys we release who may be able to play in the National Football League. We just don’t think they can play for us. We want guys that are just so passionate about it that they give everything they have. That kind of investment is what we are looking for.

We’ve had some guys that might have been short on talent but they made up for it in everything else and they have a chance to make it. We would like to combine the two. Get the guy with the talent with that kind of mentality and you have a chance. One of the reasons why I have been successful in the past is I have tried to surround myself with those kinds of people.

On seeing TE J’Nathan Bullock in practice today…

Yeah, I did. They flexed him out there wide today. He got inside of the corner for a nice catch. He was an excellent football player in high school but he has been away from the game for a while. He’s a little more natural than most basketball players.

On how Mark Sanchez is reacting to learning more and more of the offense…

I think so far, so good. Once we put in two straight weeks of it, day in, day out, we’ll see if it’s overwhelming to him, but right now clearly it’s not.

On how you know how a young quarterback will respond …

You have to throw him out there, that’s one way, for sure. In training camp, that will great. Both sides are competing against each other. The offense is competing against the defense. We’ll have a pretty good idea, before we ever play a preseason game, of how that particular competition is going and all the others as well. To me, the best competition he’s going to get is what he sees every day. Certainly, that’s what it was for Mark at USC. They went ones on ones just to bring out that competition.

On former Harvard quarterback Chris Pizzotti…

I told him not to overthink things. I was waiting for that opportunity to get that dig in that way [laughing]. He certainly looks the part, that’s for sure. I think he’s rooming with Sanchez right now. I’ve been impressed with both those other quarterbacks. We’ll see what our situation is. If we decide to bring whomever in, we’ll make that decision here in the next day or two.

On the tight ends in the rookie minicamp…

We don’t have the pads on, but I was impressed with [Jack] Simmons, No. 46, even in blocking drills. It seems like he’s got good footwork, he bends at his knees and his hips and his ankles. You have to be able to do that. Certainly, we’ll keep our options open if we think a veteran is out there that can help our football team.

On the odds against the non-contract tryout players…

They’d be longer odds. You have a financial commitment to the organization when you put money to somebody. For somebody who is just trying out, an opportunity-type guy, I would think it would be much harder. But we’ve had those guys in the past, Marques Douglas, different people. We’ve had six of them, I think, in the past who have made it. Wallace Wright here was one of those players that the Jets have. But there’s been a few a guys who have been impressive.

On deciding to sit a rookie QB for his first year in the NFL…

I certainly understand why people do it. It’s hard to buy experience. If the guy has that kind of ability where you think that he could help your football team, then I think you have to give a guy that opportunity.

I know going into it with Baltimore, that clearly was not what we wanted to do. We were going into a preseason game. Troy Smith was supposed to be the starter that week, and he ends up coming down with some mysterious thing, tonsillitis. He can’t play. [Kyle] Boller ends up all of a sudden with a shoulder problem, which we later found out costs him his whole season. And Joe Flacco’s sitting right there. That old saying, adversity to some, opportunity to others. He got that opportunity and he never gave it back.

On Baltimore starting Boller his rookie season …

They thought it was the best choice, it gave our team the best chance to put him out there. He had some ups and downs. He got hurt almost in the first game of the season. Everybody’s different and there’s always a different circumstance.

On his impressions of Shonn Greene…

I love the way guys bounce off him. He comes rolling in there, guys are going flying. Defensive guys trying to tag him, his teammate went flying today, bounced off him. I have a picture of one of our guys [Blake Hoerr, Jets director of grounds] holding the bag. Not that I anticipated that question [laughing]. But it’s true, he hits that hole and you say, “Man, that’s a big man coming through there.” He runs low. He’s a big old rascal. They bounce off him.

“Unfortunately, some of the passes bounce off him. I saw Anthony [Lynn, running backs coach] after practice, he was working with this young man. Yesterday it was funny. In the afternoon practice, Sanchez throws him a pass and it just banged off of him and Mark says, “Sorry, I should have put that on the other shoulder.” And he responds, “I just don’t catch very well.” At least the kid’s honest.

Those are things we can work on. We literally can get that better in his game. Anthony Lynn is an outstanding coach. He couldn’t take it today. He had to put those guys through more ball drills. He said, “I let them slide for one day, but not two days.” I think he’ll get better that way and I think his pass protection will improve also.

On if Greene has more of a burst than he thought…

Not more than I thought. Maybe more than a lot of people thought. I think if you are just looking at him, you just see this big guy. I think he surprises a lot of people how quick he is and the kind of speed he really does have.

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