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Minicamp Player Interviews

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JetNation.com

JetNation.com

Transcripts of interviews with selected Jets players during locker room media availability Thursday afternoon:

Eric Smith
On playing in a Rex Ryan defense…

I’m enjoying it. This defense makes it fun, makes it so you can play fast. It’s something I think every defensive player would like to play in.

On the reasons for his success during minicamp…

I think it’s getting more comfortable in the defense, talking to guys like Jimmy [Leonhard] and being in there with Dig [James Ihedigbo]. It’s just a lot of talking. Everybody’s on the same page and it makes things easier for guys to get in and make plays.

On how he has progressed this off-season…

I feel 10 times better going from the first minicamp and trying to learn everything. I was feeling like I was playing real slow and not up to my ability. Now, I’m pretty comfortable with the defense. I feel like I am playing a lot faster and, as a result, making more plays.

LB Bart Scott

On his main goal this year…

Main goal is to win the Super Bowl. That’s the only way you can write your name in history. That first goal starts with a bunch of little goals. First I have to establish becoming more of a leader on this team. Secondly, make sure that I have 100 percent effort all the time. Thirdly, I have to make sure that you learn your craft and master this system. Fourthly, try and pick some of the other guys up. How you measure yourself as a player is your ability to make others around you better.

On if this team is ready to go to camp…

I think we are. I think we’ll be ready to go in. There’s still a lot of work to do. We’ve still got to get in shape and you’ve got to get ready to deal with this heat, so you have to go train in heat. You get your body used to it and we’re all professionals. We’ll all get ready to go have a great season.

WR Wallace Wright

On competing for playing time at WR…

All I want is an opportunity. Once I get my opportunity and I make the most of it, the opportunities will keep coming. That is what happened out here this minicamp. I made some plays the first practice and they kept coming. When the ball is thrown to you, catch it, make the best of your opportunity.

On chemistry with QB Mark Sanchez…

We were both second-team. We talk before every practice that we need to get this thing going. If he is on, he is on. You can’t help but catch the ball, it is right there. My hat goes off to him. He has thrown some good passes all minicamp long. Our job is to make him look good and that is what I tried to do.

On the camaraderie at practice…

It’s all about Coach Ryan. He talks about having fun when you’re out there on the field. When you score a touchdown — celebrate. It can’t be so robotic and dry at practice. You want to make it fun. If you’re not having fun, what are you playing football for? That is the kind of mentality he has brought to this team. Don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself or your teammate. Remember at the end of the day, it is just football.

On Coach Ryan having fun…

I think when you have a coach that jumps around and wants to have fun, the atmosphere is not so dry. Eric Mangini was a great, fantastic coach. He gave me my opportunity to play. I am here because of him. They are both good coaches, but they are different. Guys are still working hard, but it’s not so serious. You can’t take yourself so serious to the point that you are walking around worrying about what is going to happen. If you make a mistake, don’t make any more and keep on playing. That is the thing he has brought to the table, a more fun atmosphere.

On getting into the WR rotation…

Everybody has been saying that you need a receiver. And who is going to step in as Laveranues’ [Coles] replacement? Everybody’s name has been mentioned and my name has not been mentioned much. This is year four for me coming up and I take it personally that my name has not been mentioned to get into that rotation of getting the starting role. I go out there with a chip on my shoulder and just perform.

QB Mark Sanchez

On the difference between Wednesday and today in how he carries himself and how people react to him…

I think it was assumed. It’s the system that we work with. Coming in when you’re one of the top draft picks, people expect you to get a sizable contract, but I don’t think anything has changed. I mean, I’ve heard some jokes and all that fun stuff. It’s still business and I’m happy we’re back to the football side of things. It’s the best part.

I’m blessed to have a great agent and I’m even more blessed to be with the best organization possible where they wanted to get something done early and we did as well. Agreeing on something early like this and knowing now I can really focus, the expectations are the same. You’re a Jet and we’re held to pretty high standards on and off the field and nothing is going to change that. I’m here to represent my family and this game and this organization well.

On getting his contract signed quickly…

More than anything, both sides have just been very open. Mr. Johnson, Mike Tannenbaum, Ari Nissim and Jackie [Davidson] were unbelievable in reaching out and really going out of their way to iron everything out early like this. It’s pretty rare, but that’s how fortunate I am to be on a team that I’d been thinking about all draft and then you get your deal done early and can go out there and see what happens next. It’s going to be so fun. It’s going to be competitive and I’m excited about that.

On how many comments were made in the locker room…

Man, I don’t know. A lot, plenty. But, it’s good. They’re excited.

On the funniest thing his teammates have demanded from him…

No one has demanded too much. They’ve just been joking around saying, “So, when are we going out?” or “When are we going to dinner?” “Don’t forget you’re still a rook, you have to buy all the stuff for gameday mornings.” So, I’ve been hearing all of the requests. Quench gum for [Alan] Faneca and Zipfiz for some of the coaches so they can get their energy boost, all that stuff. It’s pretty good. A lot of guys do that: “Sniff, sniff … smells like new money around here.” But it’s good.

On the first thing he’s going to buy for himself and his family…

I’m not sure yet. I need to do some serious thinking. I’m trying to get a house out here pretty soon. So for the next couple of weeks, that will be my main focus. For the family, when I’m back in California, I’m sure we’ll go out to a nice dinner and do something nice. Maybe get away for a couple of days with the whole family, so I’ll probably be doing that.

On if the large contract puts pressure on the team to start him…

All teammates are held to the same standard: We’re playing to win. Coach Ryan is clear about our goals here. We want to be playing in February in the championship. He’ll put the best players on the field to do that, money or no money, it doesn’t matter. I don’t think any intensity is lost there with Coach Ryan. I think he is great about it and the other coaches will help him decide.

On if Coach Ryan made any comments to him after the contract was signed…

No, nothing like that. He knows that this doesn’t change anything. It’s great to have the security for your family and things like that off the field, but it’s still competitive and we’re all working towards this thing together.

On the final drive of practice…

It was the most comfortable that I have felt ending on a drive like that. I really just let myself go. The stuff that Coach Ryan was talking about with my cadence and my voice inflections, I just let it out. I said, “Hey, it’s the last day of camp, just let it go, have fun, be yourself, play like you did in college. React when you need to and just do what you need to do to have fun.” I played my hardest and was very demonstrative on my calls whether I knew it 100 percent or not. Sometimes as a quarterback that is just the way it is, you just have to fake it a little.

It worked out really well. Guys made great catches. [David] Clowney on the post, that wasn’t the best ball in the world and he had tight coverage, but that is where the ball was supposed to go. I couldn’t put it in front of him and he made an awesome catch. Then Wallace [Wright] not quitting on the ball when he looked like he was going to get cut off on the sideline. He trusted me to put it out in front of him — great throw and catch there. Then out front, I had all day, so the guys did really well.

We usually joke with Rob [Turner] about that stuff but he did an awesome job, really communicated things especially for a rookie. There are some things that you might miss up front and he was all over it and he did a great job.

On making a statement to end minicamp…

Sure, the other guys notice that, too. They notice when you throw an interception and they notice when you run down on a two-minute drill and score. That is the way it’s got to be from here on out. It’s got to be that way. I know what it feels like to get in that situation and I’ll be ready for that come camp time. It was a good way to end.

On performance throughout minicamp…

I think the best part was that I improved every day, each practice, and even as practice went on, from drill to drill. I felt like when I did make a mistake, there were some interceptions and things like that, rookie mistakes. But I went back on purpose and really tried to step back and say let’s forget about that play and focus on the next play. How are you going to respond? Are you going to throw in the tank now or come back and be a pro about it?

That is what I felt like I did. Every mistake that I made, I think the next play was either a positive play or I did something right in the run game, making the check. So I think I responded well and improved every time. So I will meet with Coach Schottenheimer and Coach Cavanaugh a little bit and we will discuss my progress. It was great to get all of those reps and start feeling at home here and getting that contract out of the way. I am a Jet and it feels really good.

On avoiding putting to much pressure on himself…

I think when things get really tough and you feel like you missed a ball you should have got or something happens, you have to say step back from yourself and relax. You worked your whole life to do this. They drafted you high for a reason. They believe in you, you believe in yourself, just make it happen. I’m going to come back, I’m not going to force anything, I’m not going to try too hard because look out to your left and right. It’s Clowney, Wallace, Stuckey, Keller, one of if not the best offensive lines in the league that will help you get down the field and a defense that is going to be very stingy.

So you don’t have to do it all. Don’t do it all by yourself. Let those guys play for you. It was similar to the situation we had in SC — with so many athletes and good players, you don’t have to make every play. Let them make the plays for you and relax. I am really trying to figure that out and when we get in the team situations it’s not about making the big plays every time, it’s about moving the chains and controlling the game, managing the clock.

I mean, when you are that high of a pick there is a little bit of joshing that goes on from the veterans. I have tried to stay away from it. There will be a few things that I am sure he will provide when the season gets going. But that is minimal stuff that every rookie has to do. I did it, Chad [Pennington] did it, [Erik] Ainge did it.

QB Kellen Clemens

On the end of minicamp…

I thought today was a very good finish. It went really well. From an offensive, defensive, special teams standpoint, I think that we all got a lot better. Speaking personally, I feel really good about where I am right now with my comfort with the offense. It will be more work for me through the off-season. Then I’ll be taking a little bit of a break to recharge the batteries. I am very excited about where we are, going into training camp.

On whether Mark Sanchez’s contract affects his mentality…

No. He was No. 5 overall, so I figured it was going to be big. I am excited. His agent did a really good job for him. He is my agent, so hopefully someday … you know [laughing]. We’ll see where we are at.

On pressure to play Sanchez because of the large contract…

That is none of my business. From what I’ve been told, and the only thing that matters in this competition, is that the best player will play. They never said that the highest-paid player is going to play, but the best player is going to play. So that’s how I am going to approach it. If they change their approach then I’ll change my approach. But as of now that is where it is and we are going to continue to move forward.

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