Rex Ryan wasn’t promising anything for Mark Sanchez. But the Jets head coach had a positive prognosis for his rookie quarterback’s availability on Sunday at Tampa Bay.
"We’re feeling very good about where he is right now, and the doctors are, too," Ryan said on his conference call today before the players participated in a light return-to-work practice at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. "Could it take a turn and go south? Maybe it could. But right now we feel good about how he’s progressing."
Sanchez, of course, is progressing from his right knee injury suffered at the end of a third-quarter, third-down scramble against the Bills in Toronto last Thursday night. Ryan said his QB is undergoing vigorous rehabilitation to get himself ready to go at Tampa Bay against the 1-11 Buccaneers.
"He’s got a bungee cord on his ankle that he’s stretching. He’s been getting ice and stim treatments," Ryan said. "I’m not sure if he’s jogging. I know he’s doing a ton of different exercises."
So Ryan isn’t ready to declare on Monday if Sanchez will be ready to go by Sunday. But he said that if Sanchez does play, he’ll be wearing a brace on his right knee to go with the brace he already wears on his left knee. Asked if he knew of any other QBs who played wearing two braces at the same time, he pondered the question.
"I don’t know. Did Joe Namath?" he said. "I think Marino might’ve."
Ryan also said that Kellen Clemens, who came in for Sanchez to finish the 19-13 win over the Bills, should get some work with the first offense beginning with today’s practice.
"That’s what we’re going to look at even today. He’s got that time," Ryan said. "He can be with the ones today. We’ll progress it through the week. I think that’s only a smart thing to do."
Rex added his comment to those of his players on a story posted on newyorkjets.com earlier this afternoon regarding the Jets defense’s possible No. 1 overall ranking after tonight’s Ravens-Packers game, which would be the team’s highest ranking this late in the season since the end of the 1968 season, when the Jets finished No. 1 in the AFL.
"Well, it doesn’t surprise me that a Ryan helped coach that defense," Rex said about his dad, Buddy, who began his pro coaching career as Weeb Ewbank’s defensive line coach on that Super Bowl III outfit. "That’s something my dad was very proud of. I remember when Weeb hired him, he said he had to make a difference. If he felt he wasn’t making a difference, his career as a professional coach would be short. I think it lasted like 30 years."
Ryan also said being at the top of the defensive heap and also leading the league in rushing yards per game and per carry at this time of year doesn’t surprise him.
"We knew that going in it would be a lot of work but that we could have a defense that would be right up there," he said. "And then we wanted to run the football. And having those two things shows how close our football team is to really doing amazing things.
"Now we’ve 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 in every game all year. This team is close. We’re close to being a special football team."
New No. 6 in Practice
As Ryan promised, Sanchez did not work during today’s practice in the training complex’s fieldhouse. He soft-tossed before practice but then went inside to get treatment while Kellen Clemens and Erik Ainge ran the offense.
But there was a No. 6 in a red hands-off jersey on the field. It was being worn by CB Dwight Lowery, who sat out the Buffalo win with his ankle sprain suffered at New England. Lowery seemed to be moving well and Ryan said CB Donald Strickland (concussion) was imiproving also. The week’s first injury report won’t be issued until Wednesday.
Ryan admits to rooting against his former team, the Ravens, when they play on the Packers’ home turf tonight, since a win would put Baltimore a game up on the Jets in the AFC playoff hunt. And he also was happy to hear about the Raiders’ 27-24 comeback road stunner over Pittsburgh, which dropped to 6-6.
Did I say comeback? How about multi-comeback? There were five lead changes in the fourth-quarter, three of which put Oakland in the lead, of that game at Heinz Field. That equals the most fourth-quarter lead changes in the NFL in the last 10 seasons. It’s appropriate here only because the Jets were the losing team in two of those other back-and-forth games, including this year’s game at Miami and their 2006 home encounter with Peyton Manning’s Colts.
Here are the five games since 2000 with five fourth-quarter lead changes (home teams in CAPS):
|Year-Game||Final Score||Score After 3rd Qtr|
|2002-1||Chiefs 40, BROWNS 39||BROWNS, 27-17|
|2002-2||Bills 45, VIKINGS 39 (OT)||VIKINGS, 26-23|
|2006-4||Colts 31, JETS28||Tied, 14-14|
|2009-5||DOLPHINS 31, Jets 27||Jets, 13-10|
|2009-13||Raiders 27, STEELERS 24||STEELERS, 10-6|
Tags: Buddy Ryan, Kellen Clemens, Mark Sanchez, New York Jets, Rex Ryan, Super Bowl III
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