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Rex Ryan Press Conference (12/7)

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Courtesy NY Jets PR Department

Transcript of Jets head coach Rex Ryan’s conference call with reporters before Monday’s afternoon practice:

On Mark Sanchez’s status…

Nothing has changed. I will say this — he has done a tremendous job coming in Saturday and Sunday. Treatment, if there is 18 hours a day, that is what it seems like. He’s been here the whole time. His spirits are good. I know he expects to play. We’re optimistic he’ll play. Today I’m not going to have him out there. I am going to hold him out of the little practice we are having today. I remain optimistic that he’ll be able to play.

On if Sanchez will practice on Wednesday…

I’m not sure. I think he seems to be getting better each day. We’re obviously going to be smart with this. I’m going to consult with the doctors, get their opinion of things. We’ll do the same thing about should he play in this game or not. All of those decisions are what we always talk about. We’ll consider what’s best for the player first, team second. We’ll see. I’m optimistic, though.

On why he is optimistic about Sanchez playing…

Because he is so much better. We thought we were going to get good news from the MRI, we did. Just the way he is approaching his treatment and rehab and everything else, you can tell he is definitely willing. That’s for sure.

On if there is risk of further injury if Sanchez plays…

We haven’t got that far yet. If it is in the opinion of the medical staff that Mark can’t protect himself the way he needs to, then obviously that decision will be easy to where he doesn’t play. Right now, we are feeling very good about where he is now and I think the doctors are too. Does it take a turn and go south? Maybe it could, but right now we feel very good about how he is progressing.

On if Sanchez will wear a brace…

He will wear a brace initially. I don’t know if it will come off next week, the week after. I’m not sure. He will wear a brace this week.

On if he will wear a brace if he plays Sunday…

That’s my feeling on it right now from what I’ve been told.

On if he will wear two braces…

Yes.

On if he has ever seen a quarterback play with two braces…

I don’t know. Did Joe Namath [laughing]? I’m not really sure. I think [Dan] Marino might have.

On if Kerry Rhodes will start…

I want this thing to play out. I want to see how the week goes. See the preparation and game plan before we name a starter in the base group. Obviously, one way or another, both of those guys are going to play a bunch, Kerry and Eric [Smith].

On Dwight Lowery and Donald Strickland…

Both of them really progressed well. I saw Lowery continue to get treatment. Strickland, we’ll see how he is today, but basically I think we’ll be smart with him during the week. I am hopeful that he’ll play.

On if Kellen Clemens will get reps with the first team even if Sanchez can practice…

That’s what we’re going to look at even today. He’s got that time. He can be with the ones today. We’ll progress it through the week. I think that’s only a smart thing to do.

On if he will consider the opponent when deciding if Sanchez will play at Tampa Bay…

No, we’ve got to put everything we have into every game. We’re not good enough to beat anybody by taking less than that approach, that’s for sure. This team did almost have 500 yards of offense yesterday. Without the five interceptions [Josh Freeman] threw, that team easily would have won the game. This is a very dangerous football team.

On if Sanchez can start on Sunday if he misses substantial practice time…

We’ll have to see. We’ll weigh all those things and see where he is. I don’t really want to get into the what ifs and if he misses X amount of practices, no he won’t play or yes he will play. I’d rather see it play out. Again, I’ll make a good decision based on our medical staff and factor in all of those things.

On if Sanchez has been jogging as part of his rehab…

No, I never saw him jog, but I saw him doing a million other things. It looks like a bungee thing around his leg, moving it and doing different things. He’s been at it now and he’s getting the ice and the stem treatments. He’s definitely working it. He’s definitely rehabbing it, but to answer your question about is he jogging, I’m not sure if he’s jogging. I know he’s doing a ton of different exercises.

On if there are any long-term concerns about Sanchez’s knees…

No, I don’t think so. Our doctors feel pretty good about Mark. You evaluate every player, especially at the end of the season. Right now, everybody seems to be fine with Mark, so we’ll see.

On the defense being ranked No. 1 this late in the season for the first time since 1968…

It doesn’t surprise me that a Ryan helped coach that defense [laughter]. That’s something my dad [Buddy] was very proud of. When Eubank hired him, he had to make a difference. If he felt he wasn’t making a difference, then his career as a professional coach would be short. It lasted 30 years and they had the No. 1 defense in the AFL, so that was pretty good. You guys always ask, “Have you been humbled?” This is humbling to me, knowing the great work of the coaches and all the players having to come in and learn an entirely new system on defense. It’s hard to achieve this kind of ranking. You’re doing something right, there’s no question.

It’s really the dedication of the men in that room. They’ve really made this happen. I’d also same the same thing about our No. 1 ranked rushing attack. Guys like Tony Richardson and that offensive line we’ve been praising, it’s that consistent work ethic. The great coaching, Bill Callahan and Anthony Lynn and all those guys, make it happen on both sides of the ball. I guess that’s been really humbling to me.

On the frustration of leading the NFL in defense and rushing offense and having a 6-6 record…

I’m really not surprised by having the number one ranked defense. We thought that going in. We knew it would be a lot of work, but we thought we could have a defense that would be right up there and then we wanted to run the football. You’re exactly right. I think having those two things shows you how close our football team is to really doing some amazing things. We found a lot of ways to lose games, close games. We’ve really been completely outplayed in the one game against New England. Other than that, we’ve been right in every game this year. This team is close. We’re close to being a special football team. Nobody can deny that. The facts are what they are, the number one ranked defense in the league learning a brand new defense. That’s pretty good.

On if he has a reaction to the standings of the AFC East after this weekend’s games…

All I’m worried about is this next game that we play. That’s where the entire focus is as far as anybody knows [laughing]. Realistically, yes, it was like “Whoa!” To think that I wasn’t cheering for the Oakland Raiders against Pittsburgh, OK, I’ll admit it, I was cheering for Oakland. Tonight, as much as I love the Ravens and all the people there, I’ll be cheering for Green Bay. It’s that time of year. Really, when we talk as a football team collectively, we can’t get caught up in that emotion. We can see what the end result is, but we really have to take care of our business and I think we’ll be just fine.

On the team’s psyche…

I think you can make assumptions that our morale was down, but that was an assumption. We still had a belief. I don’t expect anyone else to believe it and I said that back then. Everybody in this building believes in this football team that we can still accomplish things. I know that sounds crazy to people, just like having the No. 1 defense in the League sounds crazy to people, but we think it can happen.

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