Updated, 6:19 p.m. ET
Rex Ryan has a lot on his mind these days, and a little more than just getting his Jets ready to play their third opening day under his command.
“Every week it’s my responsibility to make sure the team’s prepared,” the Jets head coach said at today’s news conference at the Atlantic Health Training Center six days before his club kicks off the regular season on Sunday night against the Cowboys. “I don’t know, it just feels different to me, the significance of it. It’s stronger than any game I’ve ever felt. I feel more pressure this game than any game I’ve ever coached, it seems like.”
The pressure he referenced was due to the Sunday night spotlight nature of this game being on national TV, under the national spotlight, 10 years after Sept. 1, 2001. Did he feel a responsibility to the city of New York that was attacked by terrorists that day?
“I don’t know. I guess so. Maybe that’s it,” Rex replied. “This whole region, this whole area. I know it’s football. We’re not talking about life or death or anything like that. I don’t know, that’s just kind of how I’m taking it. It’s my job to get this team ready to go, and we will, but I can’t explain why I feel this way. I just do.”
There’s a strong family component for Ryan’s feelings heading toward Sunday. One is that his “cousin,” Matthew Russo, was a member of the FDNY that day when the Twin Towers came down in lower Manhattan.
“That day I was thinking about my cousin and all that. He was fine, he was not involved in it. He’s since retired from the fire department,” he said. “He feels like my real cousin but he’s my stepmom’s nephew. He was like an older brother to me for a long time.”
Then, separate from 9/11 but not from Ryan’s roots, he confirmed that his father, Buddy, will delay treatment for the return of his cancer for a few days to be at the game.
“It’s going to be great to have him here,” Ryan said. “I know this is huge for him. He’s looked forward to it for a long time.”
And that’s true because for both dad and son, the other son will be coming to town. It’s hard to forget that Rob Ryan, Rex’s twin brother, is the Cowboys’ new defensive coordinator. Well, if this were any other game, such as last year’s Ryan family reunion at Cleveland, it would be hard to forget. But for this game, the Rex-Rob rivalry will take a back seat.
“Usually I go against my brother and you have a lot of fun with that,” Rex said. “I feel like this is different.”
But as different as it may be, Ryan has demonstrated in his first two seasons with the Green & White that he’s got the broad shoulders to handle such responsibility. And as he said of the first day of practice before opening night, “All right. It’s get-down-to-business time.”
And a Different Kind of Practice
The Jets did return to practice today for the first time since they parted Friday, and it was different since instead of 78-strong they are now 53-strong.
“There’s something about that first practice when you get back all together” after final cuts. It seems like half the players,” Ryan said. “We were working on kickoff returns and now it’s like ‘No else is running down on kicks? I guess we need to do it.’ Guess what. It’s for real now. You’ve got a 53-man roster and it’s just us.”
Ryan said the workout was a good one. There were different focuses for each side of the ball. The offense ran 20 plays in the red zone, while the defense got 20 reps on third down.
The coach doesn’t have to list his injured players until Wednesday but he went over an unofficial roster of seven players with injuries.
■ QB Mark Brunell (hamstring) “was a little limited in practice.”
■ Rookie DT Kenrick Ellis (hamstring) “was limited, nothing major.”
■ DT Sione Pouha (knee) “was out there.”
■ CB Darrelle Revis (hip) “was fine.”
■ FB John Conner (ankle) didn’t practice, but Ryan, pressed on his availability Sunday, said: “I feel strongly he’ll play. We’ll probably keep him out tomorrow, then get him back on a regular schedule on Wednesday.”
■ WR Logan Payne (wrist) is out indefinitely, as is …
■ OL Rob Turner (ankle), who said of his injury while standing on crutches in the middle of the locker room, “It’s just a matter of how fast my leg responds to what they give it.”
Mardy Gilyard, picked up on waivers from the Rams on Sunday, has return ability but Ryan said, “We won’t be looking at him to return kicks this week.” … But the coach did say of S Andrew Sendejo, waiver acquisition from Dallas, “We’ll probably play him on special teams” against his former team.
Ryan confirmed that the Jets brought back NT Martin Tevaseu and CB Isaiah Trufant to their practice squad. With only one opening they had to release a player from the P-squad and that player was TE Josh Baker. … No media availability for Tuesday’s practice, then the regular media schedule will resume Wednesday-Friday.
For those keeping score at home, numbers for the new arrivals: QB Kevin O’Connell is No. 7 (actually his Jets number last year), Gilyard, 15; Sendejo, 26; G Caleb Schlauderaff, 72, and C Colin Baxter, 64. One player who changed numbers from training camp is LB Nick Bellore (used to be 43, now is 54), and Trufant has gone from 44 vs. the Eagles to 35.
Tags: Buddy Ryan, Dallas Cowboys, opening day, Rex Ryan, Rob Ryan
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