Updated, 8:10 p.m. ET
Project: Wildcat is about to be unveiled on Sunday against the Buffalo Bills. So said Rex Ryan at his news conference today.
Ryan didn’t volunteer any state secrets ahead of seeing how the Jets will run the ‘Cat with Tim Tebow at the controls, but in response to several questions ahead of the Jets’ return-to-work practice at the Atlantic Health Training Center this afternoon, he wasn’t denying that the ‘Cat was ready to be let out of the bag.
“I think if we don’t, everybody will be like, ‘Wait a second,’ ” Ryan said. “Sure, we’re going to run some Wildcat, there’s no bout. Is it specifically just against the Buffalo defense? No, it’s not. In fact, this team will probably be as prepared to face the Wildcat as any team we’ll face.”
That’s not only because of Brad Smith’s presence on the Bills roster but also David Lee’s spot on the coaching staff. Lee, Buffalo’s QBs coach, was Tony Sparano’s QBs coach with Miami from 2008-10 and helped Sparano get the scheme up and flying.
Nevertheless, Rex said there was no secret to keeping the scheme under wraps other than not wanting to tip their hand before the Bills game.
“We never ran it. I guess we never appeased whoever. But our intent was that there was no sense showing it right now in the preseason, just like I’m sure a lot of teams are saving specific things for their openers,” he said.
The other major topic at the newser was the Jets’ health. Ryan wasn’t providing his typical “bonus coverage” by giving a complete rundown of the Green & White’s injury list that he doesn’t have to reveal until Wednesday. But he wasn’t guaranteeing the availability of NT Sione Po‘uha or TE Dustin Keller for the Bills just yet.
“I’m not real sure on Sione. I’m anticipating Dustin being able to play. Barring a setback, I think he plays,” the coach said, adding that as far as practicing today, “I would tend to think they wouldn’t. With [Keller’s\ hamstring, we might wait till Wednesday. We’ll see what John has them doing today.”
J.P. Pelzman of The Record asked about the possibility that if Po‘uha does suit up this week for practice, he might be on a “pitch count” similar to the one that head trainer John Mellody and his staff had for S LaRon Landry during training camp.
After practice, Po‘uha was definitive on his availability. “Ithink I’m a little bit ahead of exactly where I should be,” said Big Bo. “I’m ready to go. My job is to make sure I’m well and ready to play. All I’ve been doing is getting ready to go, and I feel great.”
On one more injury front, Rex was asked if he had an update on Joe McKnight’s hamstring.
“No, I sure don’t,” he replied. “But I know Joe thinks he’s going to play.”
Hill of a Pick
We know Ryan’s way of using humor to get a point across. We also know Don Banks of Sports Illustrated as a very solid reporter. We also think something got lost in the translation in Banks’ report on what Rex told him about second-round WR Stephen Hill.
“Well, nothing told me he would [contribute]. Nothing,’’ Ryan was quoted by Banks. “When I saw the tape, I was concerned. But Mike Tannenbaum and Terry Bradway and all our scouts were adamant about this guy. They were adamant that this guy can do it. He can run all these routes, he had good hands and he’s got 4.2 speed at 6’5″. He was the guy they all wanted, but honestly, when it came down to it, a wideout? Not my dream pick. But now that we have him, of course, I want to claim him: ‘Oh, that was my pick.’ But it really wasn’t.”
Ryan clarified that he was using some self-deprecating humor with Banks and that Hill has been developing very nicely so far, a feeling he conveyed to reporters several times when he talked about Hill with reporters throughout the preseason.
“Yeah, that one took off in a way that was different than what the intent was. Actually, I was talking about our scouting department and how Mike, Terry and those guys identified Stephen. I’ve said it before, he wasn’t my guy, meaning that he’s exceeded where I thought a rookie receiver would be, without question.
“The fact that he was from Georgia Tech, I’ve got nothing against Georgia Tech. It’s a great program. We talk about us being ground and pound, that’s major ground and pound. But he’s picked things up way faster than I thought. I was saying, ‘He’s definitely my pick now’ because I think he’s definitely going to have a bright future.”
Hill showed no negative feelings tonight after practice about this episode.
“I honestly just heard about it maybe 10 minutes ago,” he said. “Coach Ryan, I understand, is a defensive coach, but I know he was definitely joking about the situation. I’m just ready to play on Sunday. That’s my biggest focus.”
Along with the regular season, the Jets’ “community season” also gets started this week and next. Reporter John Holt will be bringing weekly stories to our site about the Green & White’s good deeds off the field, and a few Jets and ex-Jets are getting that ball rolling this week.
G Brandon Moore, for instance, is jump-starting the school year for 100 Newark, N.J., youth as he, his wife, Regina, and The Moore Family Foundation hold their Back to School Extravaganza on Tuesday from 5-7:30 p.m. at the Boys and Girls Club Newark.
Moore and company will provide backpacks and school supplies to the kids at the Boys and Girls Club for the third consecutive year, after which the Pro Bowl O-lineman will take 40 children back-to-school-shopping at the local Target.
Then when it comes to the NFL Play 60 Youth Football Festival, three former Jets — WR Wayne Chrebet, DT Joe Klecko and QB Chad Pennington — will be among the dozen players who will team with local youth to get across the message for kids to stay active for 60 minutes a day. Students will learn NFL FLAG drills from USA Football coaches and participate in drills with the players on Tuesday and Wednesday at New York’s Chelsea Waterside Park, located on 11th Avenue between 23rd and 24th streets.
Tags: Dustin Keller, joe McKnight, Rex Ryan, Sione Pouha, Tim Tebow, Wildcat
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