Ever since being introduced as the newest head coach of the New York Jets, Rex Ryanhas had a lot to say about his team's rivalry with the New England Patriots.
Among many other bombastic things, he's boasted about not being submissive to Bill Belichick, and now some of Ryan's players are calling this weekend's Week 2 match-up with the Pats their Super Bowl. All the talk doesn't seem to be registering as bulletin-board material.
"That has nothing to do with this game, you know," linebacker Adalius Thomascontended. "The only thing that matters is how you play when you go out there. I haven't paid attention to all the antics or whatever's been said. His off-the-field stuff, that won't help you on Sunday."
"Our main focus is us and what we need to take care of as a team. We try not to pay attention to everything else," added wide receiver Wes Welker.
And this from QB Tom Brady.
"Well, I think we follow the lead of our head coach. I think because we feel a certain way, we don't necessarily need to tell everybody about it. I mean, we're confident. We have as much confidence as most teams in the league. We expect to go out there and play well every time we take the field.
"To go out there and make a bunch of predictions and 'we're going to do this' and 'we're going to do that' and 'this is how we're going to be,' it really doesn't mean much. I think we've just always felt that if we do our work and we prepare and we go out there and play to our ability, the outcome will be what we're hoping for. If we don't, it won't be, no matter what you say on a Tuesday, or Wednesday, or Thursday – it doesn't matter much. I think our execution is what's most important and that's what we choose to focus on."
But the Patriots, having started watching film of this week's division opponent, can see that New York might have reason to feel good about themselves at the moment. Rookie QB Mark Sanchezlooked more like a seasoned veteran in the Jets' 24-7 disposal of the Texans in Houston last Sunday. And New York's blitz-happy defense, which Ryan brought with him from his most recent job as defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens, put a lot of pressure on Houston quarterback Matt Schaub, limiting the Texans' offensive output.
"They're definitely a confident bunch," said Welker. "It's pretty evident the way they played against Houston."
"They're playing very well right now in all three phases," Thomas observed.
He's especially concerned with the Jets running game, which could take some of the pressure off Sanchez.
"It's like a two-headed monster," said Thomas. "Thomas Jones, who runs the ball inside and out, and with Leon Washington, everybody's at the point of attack because you don't know where he's going to end up. They have the running game covered pretty well."
In particular, Thomas is concerned about the multi-talented, 5-8 Washington.
"He's fast, can catch the ball, they run gimmick plays with him. He can reverse, fake reverse, Wildcat [which the Jets call the Seminole, as Washington is a former Florida State player]. He brings so much to the table. He's shifty, can make people miss, kickoff returns, punt returns. So, you name it, he does it."
Orange you glad you asked?
With Jerod Mayo likely out for an extended period with a knee injury, reporters asked Thomas if he might be playing more inside linebacker. He was reluctant to answer directly, but did offer a humorous response.
"As long as I'm on the field, I'm good. You could put me back there in a referee suit."
Even the orange, AFL throwback ones?
"Yeah, I like the orange one," Thomas laughed.
Wednesday locker room/practice notes
Mayo was absent from practice on Wednesday, but he was the only player on the roster not on the field. Safety Matthew Slater, who's been out of commission since the preseason finale against the Giants, was back for the first time since.
Bill Belichick and his staff have handed out the first practice-player-of-the-week awards of the season. The honor – for an outstanding performance in the prior week's practices – is recognized by allowing the winners to wear black jerseys at practice.
This week, five players were recognized: QBs Brian Hoyerand Isaiah Stanback, DBs Brandon McGowanand Bret Lockett, and WR Sam Aiken.
Then there's the Dirty Show Champions belt – a wrestling- or boxing-style championship belt given to the one of the practice players of the week by assistant coach Pepper Johnson, who oversees all the scout team lineups. The gilded prize was hanging this week from McGowan's locker prior to practice.
In the locker room before practice, TE Chris Bakerwas sporting a white t-shirt with a picture of The Rat Pack on the front – only it featured teammate Jarvis Green(in a suit and bowler hat) flanked by Frank Sinatraand Dean Martin.
Brady was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week thanks to his 29th career come-from-behind game-winning drive against the Bills Monday night.