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NY Jets Training Camp

Rex Ryan Press Conference: Thursday OTA

Transcript of Jets head coach Rex Ryan’s news conference following the midday OTA practice on Thursday, courtesy NY Jets PR Department:

On Jerricho Cotchery giving Kyle Wilson an education on the field…

Yes, he did. He got him a couple of times. Kyle did a great job for the most part, but he got him a couple. The best one was in the red zone. It looked like Kyle jumped it, the ball went right through his hands and J-Co catches it for a touchdown. [Mark] Sanchez goes, “Oooh, I thought the rookie had me,” and I’m like, “That’s interesting. [laughter]. The rookie? No, you’re the rookie.” He still has three games, I guess, until he’s technically not a rookie.

That was great competition. You see it every day when you get out there with [Antonio] Cromartie, Wilson, [Dwight] Lowery, all those guys, and by the way, [Darrelle] Revis of course. They don’t throw over there. Literally on Tuesday of this week, we were doing a little move-the-ball and on first down we threw it deep. Right when it left Kellen Clemens’ hands, I’m like, “Oh, no, that’s intercepted.” Sure enough. I’m like, “Why would you throw it over there to Revis? You know he’s coming down with it.” And he did. He didn’t disappoint. We call it “Revis Rules.” Sometimes you’ve got to look over there and there’s probably a better option. He’s still doing what he always does. It’s good to see.

We’ve had some spirited practices, guys having a lot of fun. They enjoy the competition. Your great players enjoy competing against other great players. I was talking with Magic Johnson, who is very similar to me, great athletes and things. He was telling me that when he was on the Dream Team, I asked him what those practices were like and he said they were the most intense things and fierce competition that he’s ever been in, more than games, more than anything else, because you’re with the greatest players in the world. That’s probably why those guys are like that. The special guys love competing and that’s what you see on the practice field.

On talking to Johnson…

I talked to him. Mike Tannenbaum, myself and Woody [Johnson] had dinner with Magic. You try to surround yourself with great people. At least that’s what Magic told me anyway [laughing].

On if the dinner was recently.

Yes, recently.

On how it came about that he had dinner with Johnson…

It was an opportunity. He was in the city and we put out a call.

On whose idea it was to call Johnson…

It wasn’t Mike T [Tannenbaum] because he’s a Celtics fan. If it was Larry Bird, that would have been Mike T [smiling]. We actually met Magic at the fight the other day, so he was there and just kind of reached out to him. We knew he was in town and we just took him out to dinner.

On if Tannenbaum met Magic Johnson at the fight at The Garden…

No. It was the fight in Vegas. When he was in town we just said, “Hey, let’s take him out to dinner. Anybody want to go?” “I’ll go.” It was one of those deals.

On where they had dinner…

I’d rather not say. Il Postino. Italian.

On if Il Postino is a high-end restaurant…

Absolutely.

On why LaDainian Tomlinson and Jason Taylor are worth the risk…

I’ve had to go against both of those guys and I know the kind of players they are especially trying to go against LaDainian, what he offers. His last game in San Diego, as everybody is quick to point out, he never had a big game against us, but that was our day, I think. I believe he’s got a lot more left. When you watch him out here bouncing around doing a great job with protections, running the football, he’s still got that wiggle.

We ran a play the other day. It was third-and-10 and we ran the ball so I was really proud of Schotty [Brian Schottenheimer] for that. We had this little fold play and he just started boom, boom, boom like this, two or three different cuts. Clearly he would have made about 20 yards. I was like, “Yeah, yeah, this is our guy.”

Jason hasn’t really been out there with the shoulder, but he’s been great in mentoring some of the younger players. When I say that, all the players, really. He’s out there. His reputation speaks for itself. It’s going to be exciting.

I can’t wait to get to Cortland when we put the pads on and see those guys out there. We’ll be smart and we’re going to take care of all of our players. But we brought those two individuals in here for a reason and hopefully that’s to find a way to get a little bit better.

On Matt Mulligan having some issues snapping and if James Dearth will be considered in the future…

That’s not really fair for Mulligan because Mully is a guy that we’re getting ready to be an emergency to the emergency. One day, he’s got ability as a long snapper. We’re just working with him right now.

The other young man, Tanner Purdum, he does a real nice job so we’ll see. The way the rules are now, I don’t think you have to be as big as you’ve had to be in the past. You’re able to get by with maybe a smaller guy, maybe a little more athletic guy because you can’t have a body directly over them or even on the shoulders anymore. He throws a bullet back on his field goals. The laces have always been up. This young man is doing a great job for us.

James Dearth, we know where James is at.

On if the team would consider bringing in another kicker…

Oh, yes. We’ll see. For whatever reason, sometimes kicking and punting, it takes guys a little bit. Very few guys come into the league as rookies and actually kick or punt in this league. That young man [Clint Stitser], I don’t think he’s ready right now. Will he be ready in the future? Maybe so, but right now I don’t think he’s ready. We’ll probably move on.

On Nick Folk…

I feel a little better today than I did the other day. He made all his kicks and I feel a little better about that.

On if he can learn things from Magic Johnson…

No question. That’s really why I wanted to take advantage of it. This guy was a champion for so many years, one of the elite players of all time, but he’s also one of the best teammates of all time. That’s what you hear about him. Just his interaction with Pat Riley, we talked about a lot of that. We talked about, as he put it, doing things the Lakers way. The Lakers had a way of doing things.

I just look at our standard as an organization, what we stand for, how we’re going to play, how we’re going to practice, how we’re going to prepare. When new guys come in because you’re going to get new players each year, they have to live up to those standards and buy into those standards. If they don’t, you have to move on. That’s something I’ve always been a big believer in, but when you hear a guy like Magic Johnson talk about it and the success he had, I feel confident that we’re on the right path.

On Vladimir Ducasse practicing with the first team and if he is still competing for the starting role…

The competition is still open, but it means something because he’s showing that he deserves some reps. He deserves running with the first team, so that’s a positive. There is still competition going on. He has not been named the starting guard.

On what he needs to see from Ducasse…

We need to get in pads and let’s just see what happens. The best guy will play. Whether Matt [Slauson] is the guy or Vlad’s the guy, we’ll see. I’m going to have confidence in either one of those guys. That’s the plan. You want to have two guys you feel great about.

On how Brodney Pool will fit in the secondary…

Brodney’s a young man with similar talents to Kerry [Rhodes]. I was a big fan of Kerry’s athleticism. The guy’s an athlete. He’s got length. He’s got speed. He’s got ball skills. I think that’s going to be good.

Obviously, if we were playing tomorrow, Eric Smith would be out there as our starter. We’re trying to get Brodney caught up and put him in that situation where he and Jim Leonhard are working together. In an ideal world, that’s what you would have, that Brodney would be the starter and Eric would play his role.

Eric and Brad Smith are as valuable to our football team as anyone. They are the leaders on our special teams. They play every special team. They do special things on offense, in Brad’s case, and they do special things on defense, with Eric. Sometimes if you start one of those guys and they’re playing every snap for you, they’re not going to be as effective in their other roles. Their other roles are critical for us. In an ideal world, even though right now we’d start Eric Smith if we had to play tomorrow, we feel Brodney’s going to catch up and Brodney’s going to be that guy that can afford us to keep Eric in his role.

On how valuable Eric Smith has become…

When you go back, you have a starting point for players, but that’s all it is. It’s a starting point. We always say that if you want to affect your spot on the depth chart, then do something about it. Eric Smith did something about it. He was the bottom guy on the totem pole and then he worked his way up to where he is as an incredibly valuable member of this football team. We all know about his brains, but I never knew a whole lot about Eric before I got here. We just were plugging in guys. James Ihedigbo is the same way.

On if there was a point where he almost released Smith…

No, I wanted the guys to compete and get an idea of who they were. I will say this, maybe I was a little closer to it than I’m admitting because the first minicamp we had, Eric just did the opposite. He reacted like, “I’m not going to be here. Woe is me” — a natural reaction. You see yourself, you were a starter and now you’re on the very bottom of the depth chart. That’s to be expected a little bit.

He turned it completely around. By the second minicamp he was running plays all over the place. Then it was obvious. Plus we realized how smart he is and how dedicated he was. He had a path. He could have gone this way down the road and “I want to go play for somebody else” or “I’m going to show these guys. I’m going to make sure they see the best Eric Smith out there.” That’s what he did. Now, we’re not going to replace Eric Smith. There’s no way. The guy’s tremendous.

On if it would be a special teams problem if Smith wins the starting safety position…

When you look at it, I believe so. When you talk about Magic Johnson, he told Michael Cooper one day and Michael Cooper was a great player, “You’re more valuable in this role.” He could have gone as a free agent and been a starter for other teams. He said, “That’s not for you. Why wouldn’t you stay here and do the role you do best? Instead of playing 50 minutes, you’re going to play 30 minutes and you’re going to be a dominant player like you’ve been on a world championship team.” That’s what he did. After his career was over, he goes, “That was the best advice someone could get, but it took Magic Johnson to do it.”

I think with Eric, it’s not the fact that you’re a starter — he starts in so many things that we do defensively anyways. He’s out there all the time. Maybe it’s not running out there with that first unit, but he does so much for us. He could be a starter in this league. There’s no doubt he could be a starter in this league and he’s started for us, but in an ideal situation for us, we’d have Eric do what he did for us last year because he did so much for us last year. He starts on so many of the teams. He just wouldn’t start on base for us.

That’s what we’re looking at right now. Clearly, if we don’t think Brodney’s the guy or we have some issues, we know we can always put Eric in there.

On how Mark Sanchez is progressing…

He’s doing fantastic. He’s probably ahead of where we thought he’d be. Today he ran in and snuck in a team rep. I was like, “Oh, oh, what’s he doing?” “It’s a run.” “OK.” I’m waiting. When our trainers say he’s ready to roll, that’s when he’ll go in there. He feels great. He’s pushing us all the time to get in there and that’s where you want to be.

On if it was planned for Sanchez to be in on team drills…

No, he ran in there. I was like, “Whoa. It’s a run. It’s a run. OK. Hand the ball off and get out of the way.” That’s the first time he’s snuck into a team rep. Schotty quickly got him out of there.

On Vernon Gholston’s transition to defensive end…

I don’t know if you guys noticed today, but in our first-team thing he split two guys and would have had a sack. That’s three practices in a row where he would have had a sack. I don’t want to say anything because last year I kept saying, “You guys just wait. He’s going to prove it to you.” I’m not going to say anything to you about Vernon because I don’t want to cat him, but he’s really doing well.

On who’s impressed him the most so far…

I think Braylon Edwards. I think Braylon’s impressed me the most. I love the competitiveness, which he’s always had, but it’s great to see him. I think he’s learning to play the Z receiver as well as the X. He’s really learning our system now. I just love the way he’s competing with those corners. He can’t wait. He was calling them out the other day — “Come on out, we need more reps.” It’s great to watch.

Then I think [Kenwin] Cummings. Kenwin’s a guy that has actually put on weight, but he looks quicker. He looks faster and obviously being in our defensive system another year, he looks like he’s a different guy to me. He’s moving in space well. He’s physical when the pads come on and that’s the best thing Kenwin does. He’s physical. He’s tough and he can really strike you. Now, the way he’s moving in the open field has been really impressive.

On the job special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff has to do this season…

I think Westy treats it almost like a year off because he’s not having to teach a quarterback how to throw an out, he’s not having to teach the offensive line, which he’s done before. He can just teach special teams this year. It is a challenge. He has to replace some players. It’s not any different than the defensive coaches bringing in some new players, Cromartie, Kyle, Jason Taylor, and plugging those guys in and getting them up to speed. Then, on offense, having some new guys to plug in there as well. It’s no different.

I know Mike Westhoff. He loves the challenge this presents. There’s no better guy in the league to have than Westy. Sometimes they use it against him, “Ah, Westy, you’ll get him.” We have so much faith in him. You have to get him players, some guys with the athleticism. I think we have that. Last year, when he took Vernon Gholston and put him on the punt team and the kickoff team, he did a great job for us.

He’s certainly got all the experience in the world. He’s not only going to make it work, he’s going to make it be successful. It’s great as a head coach, you can lay your head on that pillow knowing you’re going to be able to protect the punter, knowing you’re going to be able to cover kicks.

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This Article Was Written By Phil Sullivan

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I started JetNation in 2005 and have been a New York Jets season ticket holder since graduating from high school. My dream is to see the New York Jets win the Super Bowl. Until then, I will be right here on JetNation writing, dreaming and talking NY Jets football.