You expected Rex Ryan to pull back from the rhetoric now?
True, on Monday, Ryan and his frequent competitor Mike Tomlin, the Steelers head coach, made it sound like Sunday’s AFC Championship Game at Heinz Field would feature a lovefest at halftime. But the respect for friends and foes always yields as the game approaches, and Wednesday at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center was no different for Rex.
“It feels a little different this year than it did last year, ” Ryan said at the first big news conference of Championship Week in front of the red, bestarred AFC backdrop. “I think the difference is that we were the only ones really who believed in ourselves last year.
“I think expectations are high, not just by us and our organization in this building, but with people around the country who notice the Jets are an excellent football team.
Ryan acknowledged the challenge posed by Tomlin’s side and that this is going to be “a triple-chinstrap game, a straight-ahead-no-fair-dodgin’ game,” not to mention “a huge challenge.” But he also acknowledged some more of his inner thoughts and passions about his vision for the Jets.
“I want that green and white confetti coming down. I want to hold the trophy for the AFC, the Lamar Hunt Trophy. We want that to be ours,” he said. “We want the hats, we want the T-shirts. We want to experience that. We know it’s going to be one heck of a battle, we understand that. But this is our mission. We want to accomplish that.”
If they accomplish something only one other Jets team has before — winning a league or conference crown to advance to the Super Bowl — they should be doing it in as good health as they can be in.
Taylor, Smith and the Injury Report
The most serious situation sounded like LB Jason Taylor, who came out of the Patriots game with a slight concussion. But Ryan said that while Taylor didn’t practice today, “it’s obvious he’s going to play on Sunday.
“He finished the game,” Rex said. “There were some signs of a concussion later that night, so we’re just being, however you want to say it, cautious. But he’s passed all the tests, he’s been cleared, so he’s ready to go.”
Perhaps the other big name with the aching body is Brad Smith, the wideout/Seminole QB/kickoff returner who pulled a groin muscle at Indianapolis. But Smith said he feels a lot better this week and Ryan listed him as “limited” for today’s team drills. I’ll have a separate story on Smith a little later this afternoon.
Other limited Jets are CB Drew Coleman, LB Darrelle Revis, S James Ihedigbo. Then there are six full-go players: Antonio Cromartie, Mike DeVito, Santonio Holmes, Nick Mangold, Sione Pouha and Mark Sanchez.
Update, 5:30 p.m.: The Steelers report lists five players, four who didn’t participate in team drills, and all five were mentioned Tuesday by Tomlin.
The DNPs were S Troy Polamalu (Achilles), CB Bryant McFadden (abdomen), WR Arnaz Battle (illness) and S Will Allen (knee). The limited player is DE Aaron Smith (triceps), the former Pro Bowler who’s been battling that muscle tear since October.
Next on Revis Island?
Ryan said one of the beauties of having Revis working the corner is that “a lot of times they’ll take a shot over there,” at their best receiver being covered by No. 24. “We want them to. We think we have as good a chance of catching that ball as you do. Only one other time do I remember seeing that in my life, and that was with Deion Sanders.”
Which of Pitt’s talented WRs will Revis be covering on Sunday? “I’ll say this right now — we’re not going to line him up on Kemoeatu.” As in Chris Kemoeatu, the Steelers’ 6’3″, 344-pound left guard.
Tags: Brad Smith, Chris Kemoeatu, Darrelle Revis, Jason Taylor, Mike Tomlin, PIttsburgh Steelers, Rex Ryan
Posted in Randy Lange | 17 Comments »