Rex to Fans: "We're getting ready to be good"

FLORHAM PARK, NJ- Earlier today, head coach Rex Ryan hopped on a conference call with a as well as a few other select NY Jets Fan blogs and touched on a variety of topics leading up to Sunday’s regular season opener against the Oakland Raiders.

Perhaps the greatest concern among Jets fans is the large question mark surrounding the cornerback position. Converted safety Antonio Allen will get the start on Sunday and Ryan said that while he understands fan’s concerns about Allen, due to his lack of experience at the position, he is confident Allen will play well on Sunday.

“I can understand where the concerns come in,” said Ryan. “He’s only had like thirty reps all season as a corner, so I get the concern but this young man is a football player. He’s got great ball skills, he’s tough, he’s physical and this week obviously we’re going to get tested vertically. They’re [The Raiders] going to just throw something up there but that’s okay because this kid right here will go get it.”

Ryan also said the key to Allen, having success Sunday will be if he can just “maintain his position” and is confident that Allen will be an “outstanding player for us regardless of where we put him.”

While Ryan was forthcoming and open about Allen, he was more secretive regarding fellow cornerback Dee Milliner’s status for Sunday only saying that he is working “extremely hard” and “he’s improving.”

Ryan also said that fans shouldn’t expect new acquisitions Leon McFadden and Phillip Adams to play a lot on Sunday due to their lack of familiarity with the Jets’ defensive schemes.

“Well we hope we don’t have to play them and that’s no slight on them but they just got here,” said Ryan.

But if push comes to shove and both Adams and McFadden are needed Ryan said he wouldn’t hesitate to put them in the game.

“So you know again, you prefer that you don’t have to play those guys an extended period but if they have to go in they’ll go in,” said Ryan.

Another issue for the Jets last season was their inability at times to move the ball through the air. While some of that can be attributed to Geno Smith’s growing pains being a rookie quarterback, the lack of experience at receiver was also a factor.

With the signing of Eric Decker, a healthy Jeremy Kerley, and the improvement of David Nelson and Greg Salas, the “cupboard’s not bare, maybe where it was last year” as Ryan put it.

Ryan specifically singled out wide receiver Greg Salas as a reason for increased optimism regarding the receiving core. Salas who had a strong training camp and preseason is impressing.

“The other guy that’s jumping out now is Greg Salas,” Ryan said. “We always say ‘all he does is get open and catch the football’ so that’s probably the number one attribute you can have as a receiver and he looks good.”

While most attention is paid to Jets’ three-headed monster at running back, the Jets’ three-headed monster at tight end mostly flies under the radar. But they pose the same matchup nightmares and Ryan was cognizant of that.

“It’s funny because really when you look over there we have three guys who are outstanding receiving type tight ends… so we have three guys, we’re blessed to have three guys at that position.” said Ryan.

The three guys Ryan is referring to are Jeff Cumberland, Zach Sudfeld and Jace Amaro.

On Cumberland, Ryan had nothing but positives to say. “He’s got tremendous speed. He was a 4.4 [40 yard dash] when he came out [of college]. I don’t know if he is that fast now but he can still run.”

Ryan was equally complementary when it came to the unheralded but sure-handed Sudfeld.

“Sudfeld is the other tight end that we really don’t talk a whole lot about but he’s six-foot-seven and he runs good routes and can catch the football” said Ryan.

But the player who has impressed Ryan the most with his growth and development has been rookie tight end Jace Amaro. Amaro, who had his struggles during camp with catching the ball, is “a different guy now” according to Ryan.

“It was new, things we’re asking him, new plays all that stuff going in and sometimes that can boggle a guy down and then the thing that he does best, all of a sudden he can’t catch the football…” said Ryan. “But nobody worried about it, it was just a matter of time and right now… he looks tremendous for us.”


Ryan also spoke about rookie fourth-round pick Jalen Saunders’ development. Saunders’ who missed time during camp after suffering a seizure isn’t “as far along as maybe we [the Jets] had hoped” but Ryan said, “The arrow is up on him.”

Ryan was also complementary on T.J. Barnes the second year man out of Georgia Tech saying the big man’s technique “has come a long way.”

Ryan added that, “big guys like that, that play hard are hard to find and they’re going to be around a long time.”

New cornerback Phillip Adams was also a player who caught Ryan’s eye.

“I like him, he’s an aggressive kid. Obviously he comes from Seattle with that kind of a mentality so that’s a welcomed thing.”

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