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Rex Ryan Press Conference, Sun 08/02

Courtesy NY Jets PR Department

First off, Bruce [Speight, senior director of media relations] made sure he told me that I had mentioned yesterday that this afternoon we would be on the grass. You know, another mistake, another rookie mistake right there [laughing]. I think we’ll go ahead and stay in the dome, that “invisidome” that we have out there [laughter]. The facilities here are amazing. You just take a look at it and the rain days don’t even affect us at all. It was a good practice today. Really spirited, I thought. Again, both sides had their moments. Really not a whole lot to say today. It was just a great practice. The energy is fantastic.

The guys are great in the meetings, too. As Schotty [Brian Schottenheimer] always says, “Write it down” anytime there are points. Guys are doing a great job. This team senses that we’re going to have one heck of a football team. Nobody wants to be the weak link or the weak guy out there, so it’s great.

I thought that [special teams coordinator] Mike Westhoff, just watching his special teams, the way he prepares his guys and communicates along with [assistant special teams coach] Ben Kotwica and [special teams coach] Kevin O’Dea, they do a great job. There’s no way I thought that I could put together a staff like we have now. We’re very fortunate. We’re very fortunate that Mike accepted our offer to stay here. It’s just great to watch. He’s confident. He’s cocky. He’s everything. He invented the game [laughter]. That’s a positive. He feels like I do on defense. Maybe that’s why we get along so well. He really is a pro out there. We’ve got so many of them out there with the coaches. It’s outstanding.

I thought the Run Over drill today with the running backs, it’s just a pride thing. It’s the heart and character over technique with that drill. I think they really responded well.

On the offensive line looking stronger than the defensive line and if Kris Jenkins’ absence played a role in that…

Kris definitely makes a difference. There’s no question about it. Yes, that’s a really great offensive line. We’re really proud of our offensive line. Everyone one of those guys, they’ve either been to a Pro Bowl or are getting ready to go to one. So it’s really an outstanding, talented group. But I’ll make sure to tell the D-line that you said that [laughing].

On how long Jenkins might miss practice…

It could be a little longer than I thought. Sometimes those calves are a little slower to heal. He’s looking good. He did a great job at treatment. He certainly wants to be out there. That would be great to get him back out there.

It’s funny because the way [head strength and conditioning] Sal [Alosi] is and [head trainer] John [Mellody] and those guys, the way they work those guys that aren’t allowed to practice, you want to be out there as soon as possible because they work the tar out of those guys. So I’m sure Kris is going to want to get out there as fast as he can.

It is funny because he does make a huge difference. You can replace guys and we have good football players, we’re deep at a lot of those positions. But there is really only one Kris Jenkins out there so it’s always good to get him back.

On Shonn Greene’s injury during practice…

It was an ankle and again that’s the kind of guy we brought. Some guys would have said, “I’ve got to take this practice off” or whatever. That’s not this kid. He is a tough guy. He kind of rolled an ankle as someone was rolling him [laughter]. But in an inside drill I think four of those guys were going to miss him. He came in there running hard, his pads down, eyes up. I love the way he runs the football.

On if Darrelle Revis has become an elite cornerback…

Oh yeah, without question. He’s got the great cover skills. You can’t be a great corner without having exceptional change of direction and speed. He’s tough. He’s got great hands for the interception. He’s smart. Again, the way he is, he’s working to be the best corner that he can be. That’s certainly good news for us.

On opposing teams staying away from Revis’ side of the field…

I can see where that would make a lot of sense. Sometimes you throw one out there and he can boomerang on you real quick. We feel good about our other corners, Lito Sheppard as well. That’s why we made the trade to Philly to get another great corner, a former Pro Bowl corner. And then to have another young guy like [Dwight] Lowery pushing him, he’s doing great also. So we’re excited about it, but Lito is obviously the starter.

We have depth there. I think in the 10 years I was at Baltimore, really we had one year that was tough sledding. I think that was due to the fact that our depth at corner was so poor. When Samari [Rolle] went down and Chris McAllister went down, we really never had a whole lot behind them. We had Corey Ivy who was an outstanding nickel but he was pressed into playing corner every snap and then we had some other guys that, quite honestly, aren’t in the league right now. That was tough and it showed. We never had the dominant defense that we usually had and that we’re going to have here.

And that depth at corner is critical. The way teams run four wides and three wides, you have to have guys that are talented and we certainly have a group like that.

On why Sheppard was attractive to the team…

You can’t be afraid to play man coverage in this system. Lito excelled in that role. Sometimes a Cover-2 corner, I don’t know where he plays in this system, maybe safety or something, I’m not sure. It’s OK to play Cover-2, but you’ve got to be able to play man and have the skills to do it all. Lito definitely has that.

On if Sheppard and Revis have a competitive rivalry…

No, I don’t think so. I think the whole group pushes themselves. They get excited to just get out there and compete. It’s pretty good when your second corner is a Pro Bowl player. That’s not all bad. We’ll take our chances. I know we’re not very good there [laughing], but we’ll be OK, I guess.

On how Lowery has improved…

I think his confidence, first off. I think knowing the system. He’s a quick study at learning the system. He believes in his ability and he’s got a lot of ability. The other thing, when you look at his career, he was always productive, he made a lot of interceptions, so he is a playmaker as well. I see his confidence and I think that’s the number one thing.

On the size and impact of David Harris…

You notice it when the pads are on but we’ll really notice it when it’s live contact, when we’re taking guys to the ground. He’s going to make a ton of tackles. That’s just the way he is. He’s got a great nose for the football. He’s a complete middle linebacker. Obviously, it starts with run-hit ability and tackle ability. He has those things, but he’s also an outstanding inside blitzer. Probably not as good as an outside blitzer, but I really like David.

On teaming up Harris and Bart Scott at inside LB…

That’s pretty good. I think every team in the league wished they had a combination of those two guys.

On the reason WR Huey Whittaker is getting fewer reps in practice…

Really, the first two groups are getting the majority of the reps. And then the threes are getting quite a few less reps. Today, we actually had what we call “opportunities” where the third group will scrimmage against each other. That was on the schedule, but we’re not on the grass and the practice went longer than I wanted it to.

When I make those plans, I told [Mike] Pettine, this is with the offense going three-and-out. But they’re driving the ball like they are. It’s adding to the length of our practice. They’ll all get opportunities. Every one of those guys will get opportunities. I want to be smart. If we’re going to do any tackling I want it to be on the grass.

On Mark Sanchez getting reps with the first team…

I’ll leave that to Brian [Schottenheimer] and Matt [Cavanaugh] to handle. They’ll handle those initial reps. He’ll get more reps with the ones as we go on. I think you see the guy has a lot of talent and he makes some throws that are hard to make.

He made one today to Whittaker that was an outstanding throw on a deep comeback. When I’ve been telling you he can make that throw, now you saw it back there. He’s on the far hash and he throws a deep comeback. The defense got great coverage underneath, great coverage on top, and he sticks it in there. There are very few guys who can complete that pass. And obviously, that’s one of the reasons we jumped up and tried to go get him in the draft.

On Jim Leonhard’s interception of Kellen Clemens…

That was Bart. Bart’s the one who caused it. He came flying in there. He did a great job on his blitz. He came clean through there and its just one of those make-it-happen situations where you have to make a play. He launched it up there. He had no time to do anything else with it. We put him in a situation where you’ve got to make it happen. If you get sacked, you lose the game.

That’s the kind of situation we put them in those last few plays. They had to get it done. The offense has to covert and the defense has to stop them. So he kind of launched one up there. You have to throw it. You can’t take a sack in that situation.

On when the team will move to the grass field…

I’ve been told not to give you guys a time frame, because you’ll hold me to it [laughter]. So, whenever it’s ready, we’ll be out there. I’m hoping it will be sooner rather than later.

On gadget plays on offense…

I think its something when you’ve got an unusual guy like Brad Smith, you’re able to do those things. Whether it’s Wildcat or whatever they call it, we’ll have our own form of that. I always think it’s tougher when you have a guy who can throw it. I think that’s why Miami took that guy from West Virginia in the second round, Pat White. You’ve got that kind of ability, like Michael Vick. We have that in Brad.

If you look at Brad’s numbers in college — I always throw it out there, I’m waiting for someone to give me the true answer — it was over a hundred touchdowns that he was responsible for in college [actually 98]. He’s an unusual guy and we’ll take advantage of that.

With Brian’s system, it’s so multiple. We can run it on you. We can run zone schemes, counters, reverses. You name it, we can do it. We can run Wildcat stuff. All of it. And its likable and learnable and the guys know it. That’s the neat thing. Both sides of the ball ought to be really hard to defend, and obviously against Westhoff as well.

On the triple lateral by the defense…

We’re going to have a conversation about that [laughter]. That’s the third group. Trust me, they’re going to go like this [motions both hands wrapped around the ball]. They’ll look like old school right there. We’ll have rules.

Just like when a guy picks it off in the end zone, we’ll identify the guys who can bring it out. But most of them will stay in. We’ll have a Revis, a Leonhard, good returners. Obviously, Lito Sheppard, we’ll let him return them because I think he has two over 100 yards. So we’ll let him bring it out as well. We literally will say, “No, what are you doing? Get down. You haven’t reached that level yet, so get down.”

But those guys I think were shocked that they got it. I was just kidding. They were shocked, as I’ve been told, that they were out with the threes.

On Bryan Thomas…

We’re moving him all over the place. You saw him at nose tackle today because Kris [Jenkins] wasn’t in there. He can’t wait for Kris to get back, I guess. He knows the defense. He’s a smart guy. He is a multitalented player, like a Calvin Pace. [Marques] Murrell has a lot of that ability. Vernon [Gholston] is coming like that.

I’ll tell you, the kid from Rutgers, [Jamaal] Westerman, I’ll be shocked if he doesn’t make a name for himself this year. He is really working good. We’re putting him at inside linebacker. His natural position is outside. We’re moving him all over the place like we did with [LeRon] McClain last year in Baltimore. But he’s a pass rusher, he’s a blitzer. His reads aren’t natural right now inside, but he’s really working on it. He’s improving. He’s a smart kid. We’re really excited to have this guy and the fact that we got him from our backyard is a great thing, too.

On Murrell stepping in while Pace is out…

I think he’s going to have to. We had plans for him anyway. He’s really a good pass rusher. You see he has some coverage ability. He’s an athlete that can play in space. He’s got size and he’s got those change-in-direction skills and he’s tough. Those are some things you really look for.

The only thing about Murrell that would keep him from being an every-down guy is that he’s probably not as thick or bulky as you would traditionally like. But he’s a tough guy. I think he can get it done. We’re a team that’s really stacked out there and that’s a good thing.

On Vernon Gholston’s demeanor…

I saw yesterday when Reggie [Hodges] hit that 95-yarder. Where was Vernon? When Leon [Washington] picked the ball up on the 4-yard line, Vernon was on the 15. That’s a pretty good sprint. If someone doesn’t care, they’re going to be back behind the 50. He’s got all the tools, so we’ll see. I think it’s more his demeanor off the field that really puts it out there.

I’ll say this about Vernon. Let’s not forget that he was on the quarter system [at Ohio State]. When he came in, everything was new to him. He missed so much time preparation-wise, learning a new position, getting familiar with your teammates, the pro game and all that kind of stuff. You can make a lot of excuses for him, but they’re actually warranted.

Otis Wilson was one of the most physical football players I’ve ever seen. He played for the Bears, number 55. The first year he was struggling mentally. Like my dad said, “Hell, I don’t know if he knows he’s a right linebacker or a left linebacker sometimes.” But Otis ended up being pretty decent and he had the same kind of skills. So we’ll see if Vernon can turn the corner in that way in the perception of the general public.

One thing I’ll say about Vernon is I’ve been challenging him every day to just run through things. He is a big strong guy. He is a rock. “Just get that feeling of running through somebody.” We sent him on a blitz and he was running the pick stop for the insider linebacker through the A-gap and he ran right through one of our best players. I think Nick was really surprised by that. He gave him a little extra shot at the end of the play. If he can move Nick Mangold like that, he can move anybody.

That’s what we’re trying to get. I told him he messed up because we saw it. We got a little of it this time and we’ll see. It’s all going to come out in the end. He’s going to be the starter for the first four games for sure and we’ll evaluate him after those games.

On what merited Gholston being named the starter before camp…

He’s a big, physical guy that has all the tools. We’ve just got to give him an opportunity. That’s our job as coaches. What merited it when we made Haloti Ngata the starter in Baltimore? Because of what we saw on college tape. How we project him is why he’s the starter. We did the same thing with Haloti and I think that worked out pretty good, too.

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