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Jets Rex Ryan on Antonio Cromartie, Kellen Winslow and Geno Smith

Posted By Sports Talk Florida On June 14, 2013 @ 8:02 AM In NFL | No Comments

New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan spoke to the media Thursday after the last day of mini-camp about Antonio Cromartie’s attitude, Kellen Winslow tryout and Geno Smith’s readiness.

Opening remarks…
Obviously, (mini-camp), we conclude that today. I’m happy (with) where the team’s at. Clearly, we have a long way to go in a lot of areas but we threw so much at our guys. I’m really proud of the preparation that our guys showed and obviously I think we made a lot of strides in our strength and conditioning, that we had guys working out and all that kind of stuff. So I’m happy with that. With that said, we’ve got a ton of stuff to improve on. We know that. So this is just the beginning of the process. But again, I’m happy with how we went through the OTA’s and mandatory camp, really all the phase one, two, and three of the offseason program. So I’m happy with that. I am excited about having a little time away for the players. I think that’s good (to) get away from the building because I think they’ll need some down time. And then in six weeks we’ll come back and have at it. Then it just builds and builds and builds. Again, I’m happy where we’re at right now.

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On whether he reminded players to stay in shape to avoid injuries during training camp…
Well, again this is their time. I mentioned that it is good to get away, I feel, away from the building and all that. What they do on their own time, this is their time, this is their down time. I don’t believe I can say anything about, ‘You have to do this, you have to do this,’ or whatever. Maybe I can encourage it by NFL rules but I don’t know. This is their time and I won’t be monitoring. I’ll have no idea what guys are doing, where they’re at or anything else. This really is, it’s a down time for the players, it’s a down time for me.

On telling the players to stay in shape…
I don’t know if I can say that. I think we all know the answer to that but I don’t believe I can publically say that.

On if dropped passes are testing his patience…
Just a little. We had something that I don’t think I’ve ever seen. We actually had a couple of drops in the walk-through yesterday which was interesting. And again, it has to get better. You guys see it, you’ve seen the drops as well as I have. But the fact that I’ve told everybody about it, is it putting pressure on them? Well, in the NFL, it’s a pressure game. You should catch the football. That’s your job. Certainly we know we have to do a better job but I expect it to happen immediately and it never happened yesterday either. So we’ll have to try to fix that one way or the other. If that’s with other players, so be it. If that’s guys stepping up and focusing and concentrating more, doing something that should be natural to them, that’s a possibility also.

On if he attributes the drops to rust or coaching…
No, it’s being taught. We do the JUGS machine. You name it, we do it. We emphasize it all the time. Whether it’s a lack of focus, whether it’s a technique thing with the hands in different positions, it’s probably all of the above. And it’s not just one guy dropping, (where one) guy had 10 drops and nobody else dropped a ball. That’s really not the case. Now there (are) some receivers that aren’t dropping anything but there (are) some that are. To me, if you’re a receiver, it’s hard to expect to make a football team or have a huge contribution if you can’t catch the football or you’re not consistently catching the football.

On if he thinks the team needs to bring in a veteran receiver…
Well, again, with John (Idzik) and everybody, our pro personnel department, we’ll be looking at all possibilities, not just for that position but any position that can help our team. You mention Holmes, obviously we need Santonio Holmes. I don’t think there’s any doubt. He (is) a tremendous football player. The first year we had him, he won like four games in critical times. He’s an MVP of a Super Bowl making clutch catches, there’s probably no bigger time than that. I mean, that’s been his history. Obviously, that would be a big shot in the arm for us to get him back out there and healthy.

On how confident he is that Holmes will be ready for the season…
I’m confident. I’m definitely confident. I’m not sure if he’ll come back, I know it’s a goal of (Santonio). (He) expects to be back by training camp. So I certainly hope that’s right, but we’re not going to put him out there just to make a deadline. We’ve got to do what’s in the best interest of us and him. So I think that’s making sure he’s healthy.

On if the team will sign Kellen Winslow today…
Well, again, I’m not going to discuss that now, but I see exactly what you see. That athleticism and his ability to catch the football, it certainly jumps out.

On how he assessed Winslow’s second practice compared to the first…
Well, I just see the kind of presence he has. We threw him some things in the red zone. We do different things like that. He’s still a very athletic guy. How many catches he had specifically, I’m not sure. But you certainly feel his presence.

On if Kyle Wilson will play inside or outside during training camp…
Well, I’m excited about where Kyle is. Certainly there is going to be competition for that (outside) spot, but Dee Milliner will have every opportunity to compete for that as well. You take a guy with the ninth-overall pick, and for good reason. The guy’s a tremendous talent, (he’s) one of the top corners to come through the draft in a long time. So we’ll see how it goes. I will say this about Kyle, this is the best camp he’s had, and it’s not close. I’ve been proud of the way he’s come into these OTA’s and the way he’s competing. The other thing about Kyle is mentally he’s a sharp guy as well. He can work inside and outside and we’ll play him at both spots.

On if Wilson having his best camp is due to the team drafting Milliner…
I’m not sure. I guess you’ll have to ask Kyle that.

On the offensive line…
Well, it looks good so far to me. Obviously, it’s quarterbacked by Nick Mangold in there, and we’ve all become accustomed to the type of player he is. I think he’s stepped up his leadership. Whether it’s now kind of being the elder statesman, I guess, him and (D’Brickashaw Ferguson) or whatever, I see that more from Nick right now. He’s really taken that. (He’s) always been a sharp guy. He’s going to have two new guards playing with him so that certainly will be a challenge. But you have two veterans with Willie Colon – (I’ve) really been impressed with Willie, same thing with (Stephen) Peterman. We’re flipping all those guards. (Brian) Winters as well, that we drafted. I’m expecting big things from this young man. So I feel pretty good about where we are with those guys. Sometimes there’s a comfort level. The offensive lineman immediately wants (to say), “I’m the right guard,” “I’m the left guard” or whatever, but we’re not there yet. It’s about the competition. The best two will be out there and we’ll see who that is. But do I see good competition there? I absolutely do.

On how Austin Howard has changed this offseason…
I don’t know how much he’s really changed. I guess we’ll see when the pads come on. The best thing he does is come off with a flat back and knock people back. I think until you have the pads on you don’t necessarily see that. But I think he’s working hard on his conditioning. I think he’s working hard going against edge pass rushers (and) things like that. He’s an unusual guy, a guy with that kind of size, but very athletic. He’s more of a prototype left tackle as far as his feet are concerned. He has left tackle feet as a right tackle. That’s impressive. Obviously, he has the size and the power you want out of a right tackle.

On whether Peterman and Colon are the starting guards at the moment…
No, I wouldn’t say that because I think (Brian) Winters has been impressive as well. We’ve worked Winters with that group as well, really rotating all three of them throughout the OTAs. I’m not ready to say those two are the definite starters. I think Winters deserves a shot and I think he’ll definitely get one.

On whether Joe McKnight tweaked his ankle yesterday and if he’ll practice today…
He was able to finish practice, so that was good to see. But yeah, when he went down, I think it scared him more than anything else. He came in (close to another player) and (they) ran into each other. It was a punt block drill and both guys came in and kind of stepped on each other.

On whether it’s more challenging to evaluate players under the rules of the current CBA…
It’s a level playing field, so there’s no difference between our team and every other team. But there are other things that you do. I think having opportunity days where maybe at the end of practice you put the ball down and you let the young guys go at it. You’re going to see them in preseason games as well. That’s why those games are critical (as well as) the Green & White Scrimmage. Even if we have to create our own live scrimmage situations, they’ll have the opportunity to show what they can do.

On his expectations for Kenrick Ellis…
I was expecting huge things from him last year and I think he was ready to take that step. Then he had, you mentioned the one problem, obviously, over the summer. When he came back, he started out (and) looked great last year in the OTAs. Like I said, I was like, ‘Wow, this guy may end up winning our starting job.’ I was really pleased with him. When he came back in the summer, he wasn’t quite to that level and then he got injured early in the season. He had a little bit of a knee (injury) early in the season. (He) never really hit his stride until late in the year, but again, now is the time for him to step up. I think he understands that the opportunity is right there in front of him and I believe the young man is going to do a tremendous job for us.

On the difference in Antonio Cromartie’s attitude compared to his first two years with the team…
I was pleased with him the first couple of years as well, in fact, last year, obviously making the Pro Bowl, I’m not sure how many corners actually played better than him last year. But I see him taking another step. I don’t think there’s any doubt. I see him taking a step as far as his leadership as well, bringing guys with him. He trains with a bunch of guys. Obviously, the kind of shape he’s in, people will be (saying), “What are you doing? How can you be in that kind of shape?” You don’t want to tell everybody that a lot of that’s God-given. I think he’s just an unusual guy that way. But he does work extremely hard. He’s one of the first guys in the building every day and one of the last to leave, so he is very dedicated. I’ve seen him on the practice field really working at his craft, trying to get better. Sometimes when you get a guy that has played extremely well, obviously a Pro Bowl level, sometimes it’s natural to kind of (think), “Hey I got this figured out.” The great ones, the unusual ones, will try to take it (to) a level even higher, and I see that out of him. I’m always reminded about what Walter Payton said, as great as he was, he was a legendary worker in the offseason, similar to a Jerry Rice. They (asked), “If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?” He said, “I would’ve worked harder.” That’s unbelievable because I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a guy work harder than Walter Payton. But that talks about, really, the unusual guys. There are stars and then there are guys that can play even at a higher level.

On how much Cromartie’s presence on the roster helps since Darrelle Revis has been traded…
Again, we’re very fortunate to have a true number-one cornerback. We hope to have more than just that, but we’re very fortunate to have Cro (Cromartie) because he’ll stand with anyone in the league with his talents.

On whether he agrees with Coach Lee’s statement that Geno Smith is not ready to be an NFL starter yet…
Well again, if we had to play tomorrow, I’d agree with that. But I think when we get out to training camp and we have that time, we’ll see if he’s ready or not ready. We’ll make that decision. But are there things that he’s working every day at? Absolutely. He came from a system that this is not a surprise. He came from a system that primarily was a shotgun system. His steps, dropbacks (and) his mechanics that way, footwork-wise, weren’t dialed in the way they’ll have to be at this level. I think some of that is your five and seven-step drops. They’re all new to him. Sometimes, you really can’t even notice them because when he’s on, the guy is absolutely terrific. We knew that it (was) not (going to be) an easy process, but it’s one that I have confidence that when we get to Cortland, I think when the thing goes, I think you’re going to see the guy keep improving and improving.

On his assessment Demario Davis and his leadership…
When we drafted the young man, I mentioned that I thought it was (unusual), and I recognize the fact that it is unusual to get a rookie to come in with such charisma and whatever you want to call it, leadership. But I thought when we took him, when we drafted him, I guess you either have it or you don’t, and he’s certainly a young man that has it. So, what have I seen? I’ve seen him come in (and) work extremely hard. It’s challenging. We put him in a position (where) he has to replace an outstanding player in Bart Scott, but he’s taken to it. We ask that WILL linebacker to do a lot of things and I’ve been really proud of him. He’s also playing the Dime in the sub-package, so it’s been very impressive. I don’t see what’s in the locker room all the time, but certainly I understand the type of presence that he does have.

Source: New York Jets Media

Jets Rex Ryan on Antonio Cromartie, Kellen Winslow and Geno Smith by

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