Updated, 2:15 p.m. ET
Rex Ryan obviously doesn’t go by the NFL head coach’s book, and that includes the old rule about not giving starting jobs out on the second day of training camp, especially to rookies.
“Mo Wilkerson? He belongs. He’s the starting defensive end right now, the day he walked in here,” Ryan said at today’s news conference at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. “That’s why we drafted him, not to be a backup. He’s a big player. He and Brick were going at it yesterday.”
Wilkerson appreciates the good words from the boss but knows there’s a long way to go. ”I just have to worry about trying to do my best to try and help out the defense,” he said this afternoon. “Coming into the games, if I’m truly the starter, then so be it, but I’m definitely going to work hard to be the starter.”
We have a few of those photos up on the website, and it is interesting and significant to see first-round draft choice Muhammad Wilkerson running into left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson, seemingly giving as good as he’s getting — and all this in Monday afternoon’s limited-pads workout.
“He’s a great athlete,” Mo said of Brick. “He has long arms just like me. He actually got me on one play yesterday, just had me stuck on the line, but that’s going to come when you’re playing against great guys like this.”
But what about Shaun Ellis? He remains a free agent, and all Mike Tannenbaum said is that the two sides are “talking.” But what if Ellis returns for his 12th season. For the last 10 years he’s been the primary starter at left end in the Jets’ different 3-4 incarnations. He’s third on the franchise’s all-time sack list. Would the Big Katt sit behind the rookie with the large wingspan?
“We don’t need guys to play every snap anymore,” Ryan said. “We brought in Trevor Pryce, who’s had some unbelievable years, to fill a purpose for us. If Shaun’s on this team, we’d start him, absolutely, but we brought this kid in to play.”
And as Rex said, he’d love to have Shaun back, “there’s no doubt.” But Wilkerson has just started to show his potential in green and white.
Ryan was asked about the familiar-looking white-haired gentleman on the sidelines of camp. He was very happy to talk up the addition and role of Tom Moore as a consultant on his coaching staff.
“Tom’s great,” Rex said of Moore, who joined the Colts as offensive coordinator and until this year was the only pro OC that Peyton Manning had ever worked with. “He’s really going to be Brian [Schottenheimer]‘s guy, whatever Brian wants him to do. It doesn’t get better than having Tom Moore sitting in that room with you. He’s been here already during the offseason working on a lot of things, not just red zone.
“We weren’t the only team that was trying to get Tom but we landed him.”
Moore is joined as a coaching consultant by Jim McNally, the longtime heralded OL coach for the Bengals, Panthers, Giants and Bills. The two are in camp now and once the season gets under way, they’ll be working primarily from their homes, breaking down video on upcoming opponents and otherwise bouncing ideas off of Rex, Brian and the rest of the Jets staff.
Another player who’s getting his fill of Ferguson is LB Jamaal Westerman. “Jamaal’s been up against Brick forever,” Ryan said. “When you’re going up against one of the elite players in this league day in, day out, one of two things happen. Either you just get beat down so bad and you go home and go on to your life’s work, or you get better. … That’s what this young man’s done.”
Rex said S Jim Leonhard is a little sore right now but still doing fine in his comeback from December’s broken leg and offseason rehab. So all signs are go at safety, but as far as punt returns, the coach said, “I don’t have the heart to tell him he won’t be doing that in a game.”
The coach gave a plug to first-year LB Garrett McIntyre. “I don’t want to play this guy up too much, but the Canadian kid, he’s one of those guys that’s a pain to block. He’s one of those relentless guys.” McIntyre, 26, has been around the football block, most recently last season with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, for whom he notched eight sacks, tied for fifth in the CFL, and four forced fumbles, first in the league north of the border.
Ryan on this year’s offense: “I still think we’re a ground-and-pound team. We’re deep. We’ve got four tailbacks that can go. We’re not going to disappoint you. We’re going to turn and give it to somebody. But I would say when it’s all said and done, we’ll pass the ball more than we did the first two years we’ve been here.”
Tags: D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Garrett McIntyre, Jim Leonhard, Jim McNally, Muhammad Wilkerson, Rex Ryan, Tom Moore
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