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REX: We Have to Bring Our Own Energy

Posted Dec 12, 2013

Transcript of head coach Rex Ryan's Thursday afternoon news conference.

Good practice today. Again, Geno [Smith] is throwing the ball really well. I like our communication. I think that’s been good. As long as you can make it a physical game, you’re not hurting yourself. I think sometimes when you go up against these teams, games are lost sometimes more than they’re won so you try to prevent that during practice. I think we’ve done a good job of that. I think it looks like, with me talking to my brother [Rob Ryan] really was like, yeah I talk to him. Here’s what we came up with, so we’re going to have Drew Brees play for us this week [joking]. But no, I think it’s pretty funny. Of course I talk to him, but how we’re going to alter our plans and all that kind of stuff, there’s no secret. You see everything on tape anyway. Of course I do talk to him. Alright, who am I kidding? We altered every bit of our plan and we’ll see that on Sunday [joking]. But I just don’t want whatever happens, my brother thinking that he gets a game ball or something if we’re somehow able to win the game [joking]. 

Here’s the injuries, guys that did not practice today, Stephen Hill with a knee. Again, that’s more of we’re trying to get him right, see exactly how we can do it, and that’s really what that’s about. Ed Reed today never practiced, and that was not injury related at all. That was more of the let’s get him right for Sunday. Sometimes you’ll do this for veteran players. We’ve done it in the past. We did it with LaRon Landry before. We’ve given some veteran players rest to make sure that we’re getting them at their very best. Don’t leave it on the practice field. So that’s kind of where we’re at with Ed. Guys that were limited today, [Antonio] Cromartie with his hip and concussion was out there in the red jersey today, Santonio Holmes, foot and hamstring, Kellen Winslow with a knee and then everyone else practiced full today.

On how Cromartie is progressing…

Well, I feel good about his progress. But again, the big thing is I’m not saying he’s going to play, doctors make that determination and quite honestly, that decision is not made until game day. And so a guy can look good and all that stuff, but really that final decision whether the young man plays or not is actually game day. So that protocol for concussions now, it can go all the way right up to a game-time decision. Again, I’m not saying he’s going to play or whatever. I know he seems to be doing pretty well. Today he was out there, like I said, in the red jersey but he was able to move around and things so that was good.

On why Ellis Lankster is a potential starter instead of Kyle Wilson

Well Kyle, he’s our full-time nickel. That is a huge assignment, by the way. It sounds like you’re the backup. No, that’s not the case. He’s a starting nickel and he plays, it’s not 100 percent of the reps, but he plays a ton. I think Kyle, he’s been stepping it up and doing a nice job playing that nickel and like I said, that is not an easy position to play. But that’s where we want him to focus on that, let the other guys focus on the outside, and so that’s how we approach it.

On what Reed is doing when not practicing…

Well, it’s a day off from the practice field but he’s there for all the walkthrough stuff, he does all of that. It’s just that you don’t put him out there for the physical part of it. But again, Ed’s on top of everything. He’s still leading meetings with DB’s. He’s there sharp. You just try to back him off where he’s not on his legs the whole time.

On if he has shortened practices this week…

Yeah, we’ve done that even last week. When you get to this stage, that’s what you try to do to make sure. It’s a long season, but you try to cut them back a little bit and we’ve done that in the past as well.

On why the team has struggled on the road…

I don’t know. That’s a good question.

On how concerned he is over struggles on the road…

Well, it’s concerning. It doesn’t really matter where you play. Obviously, you’re going to get energized when you play at home. There’s no question about that. But you’ve got to bring your own energy and everything else with you on the road. It’s the same game. It’s the same dimension of field and everything else. It seems like we haven’t been, obviously, very good on the road. We had the Monday Night win against Atlanta and that’s it. Obviously, it’s been challenging for us.

On if he will change anything on the road…

We tried that and we get in trouble for it [joking]. We’ll try everything, trust me.

On the mentality the team needs to have on the road…

I think it’s not a magic formula. You go out and you play well. It starts with preparation during the week and all that. You have bed time at the exact same time, you’ve got all that. Our schedule has been the same forever and we like to get to a place early, allow them to go eat together, all that stuff, have team meetings, all that, snack obviously, and then that’s it. That routine stays the same whether you’re at home or on the road. It’s the same routine, but you’re in a different building and things like that. Sometimes it happens to younger teams where you first learn how to win at home then you’ll learn how to win on the road. There’s something to it. Obviously, like I say, you get a big lift, we get a big lift from our fans, there’s no question about that. But it can’t be an excuse. All you can finish is 8-8 if that’s the case. Clearly, we have to learn how to win on the road.

On players enjoying playing on the road in 2009 and 2010…

Well again, I don’t know if you asked everybody to a man, they would have said we’d much rather play at home. But yeah, we were more successful on the road than we were actually at home.

On if the team is more successful when their backs are against the wall…

I don’t know but it sounds like you’re already answering that thing like, ‘Yes we do. Here’s why,’ [joking]. I don’t really have a good answer for it. The thing I’ll say about this group, there’s no quit in this group. There’s absolutely no quit in this group from anybody in this organization. We just keep fighting. And again, you’re going to have to earn it. If you’re going to beat us you’re going to have to earn it. Obviously, that’s happened several times this year but it’s not been a lack of effort or anything. Our guys are passionate about playing and about putting forth a great effort, a maximum effort, and that’s really what we do.

On Bilal Powell’s diminished role…

Well no, I think the emergence of Chris Ivory has taken some reps off of Bilal’s plate. We never went into the season saying that, ‘Hey, we were just going to have one back.’ We wanted to have complementary backs and I think that’s where we’re at right now. So both guys are getting carries. You’re right, at the beginning of the year Powell I think was leading the AFC in rushing. That’s great, but it was also the fact that Chris wasn’t healthy. Now that both guys are healthy, they’re able to contribute, both of them are.

On how Cam Newton has developed…

I’m not sure that there’s a great deal of difference from what I’ve observed. I just know that this guy’s a scary athlete. And when you meet him he’s scary because it’s like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ I just remember that when we were in the preseason I’m like, ‘Who’s going to tackle that guy?’ He’s about as good looking of an athlete at quarterback as I’ve ever seen and he can throw. He’s got a bazooka for an arm. The kid’s just ridiculous. It’s Calvin Pace back there.

On bringing Newton down…

Well, it’s not easy to bring him down. He’s kind of like Ben Roethlisberger, would be up there too. But those guys are so big and strong that they’ll wait. They don’t have to get rid of it. Some guys have to throw people open. They can wait until a guy gets open and then throw it. I don’t know how many times, we know how many times he’s been sacked, but how many times has he escaped sacks and things like that. That’s what he does and that’s what scares you. What happens when he buys time, that’s when big plays happen. I think when you look at, and you guys have the number more than I would about the percentage of big plays that this team makes, it is way up there. Just like with Pittsburgh with Ben, as you guys compared him to early in the week, it’s the same thing. He’s always going to be up there because he can get away from a guy. He’s not, ‘It’s just a pass rusher, no problem,’ and move on. That’s kind of where he is. Now, will he get sacked? Absolutely. But, he’s avoiding sacks a heck of a lot more than he’s taking them.

On how disappointing Holmes’ season has gone due to injuries…

It’s been disappointing, there’s no question. And you’re right, it’s because of the injuries. It’s the foot when he started, missed almost all of training camp and mini camps. Then it’s the hamstring. He’s just been battling different things. And that’s unfortunate because we all know the kind of player Santonio can be when he’s healthy. He looks good this week and hopefully we can get him revved up.

On how much of a blow Holmes’ injuries have been to the offense…

We have no excuses, but with that being said, yeah I would have loved to have had a 100 percent healthy Santonio Holmes. Obviously, you’re taking a top notch receiver and adding him to your lineup. He just has been battling those injuries it seems like all season. 

On where the Panthers defense stacks up against other teams they have faced this year…

I don’t know. We’ve faced some good defenses but they’re certainly up there. Statistically, I think they’re even ahead of everybody. We’ve faced some good defenses, Baltimore’s, Cincinnati’s, New Orleans’, different teams. A lot of guys play good defense but certainly they’re right up there with them. I think it’s led by the guy in the middle. That [Luke] Kuechly is impressive. 

On what he attributes leading the league in pre-snap penalties to…

There’s a lot of factors. Defensively, it’s just focusing on getting off the football better. We have to do that much better. We’ve had a couple offsides. We even had a corner offsides a few times. That’s discipline. That’s focus. Focus on that snap. You don’t have to jump it. Let’s focus on that ball, that thing moves, we take off. And then offensively you sometimes expect it a little bit when you’re putting in a brand new system. You may have a few more pre-snap penalties than maybe you would the following year when guys get used to playing with each other. I think a lot of that, or some of it, has to do with picking guys up. You’ve had several receivers that we’ve picked up that really haven’t spent a whole lot of time here. Hopefully those numbers will go way down now and we expect them to.

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