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11 questions with Rex Ryan on the Patriots, John Conner, and Bills rookies

Q: John Conner and you in a fight. Who would win?

A: John Conner. Hard for me to say that, but I am 52. If I was 22, he'd still win the fight. It's funny when you look at players, you evaluate players and all that and it's well known that I was looking for other guys and I noticed this guy as I was looking at linebackers and he was just pummeling them. I'm like, "Wow." A guy named Joker Phillips was there that I coached with at the University of Cincinnati, he was the offensive coordinator. He said, "You think those are impressive? You've got to see him on the kickoff return team." I'm like, "What? Ok." So I go back and look, oh my goodness. I mean it was scary some of the hits. It's always good to surround your; you want your team to have a bunch of guys that you don't want your kids playing against, you know what I mean? So give me those types of players and that's usually a good thing. We ended up drafting John and obviously the Terminator is a great nickname for him. Obviously, the John Conner, but he'll knock the heck out of you. So adding him, when you look at what kind of team are the Bills, well a lot of teams don't even have a fullback and we've got two of them. Two of the best fullbacks in the league are on our football team. So I think that may tell you a little bit about the type of style of football that we want to play.

Q: Can you envision having both of them on the 53 man roster?

A: The good thing, and Doug Whaley and I talk about it all the time, is that we'll keep the best players. If that means two fullbacks, then so be it. Both (Jerome) Felton and John, can they contribute on special teams as well? I think both guys can. Clearly we brought Felton in to be the guy, but it just so happens that John Conner is still sitting out there and you know what, I know John and he's a heck of a football player. He's an excellent teammate, so let's bring him in, let him compete and I would not be surprised if John makes our team.

Q: Do you have any reaction to the Tom Brady suspension?

A: Was there news on that? I think the big deal is for us we know we're playing the Patriots in Week Two. No matter who is there, we're playing the Patriots Week Two and they're playing us. (Bill) Belichick is going to bring his team in and he's going to have them prepared. I'll promise you I'm going to have our team prepared as well. That's really what I think about it. All the particulars and all that stuff, I really haven't given any thought to it.

Q: Were you surprised by the length of it?

A: Nope. I'm not. I think when the league, obviously the league knows all the facts of everything and so I'm not going to speculate on it. When the league says the suspension is what it is, then obviously they've looked at extensively and that was their decision. So be it.

Q: In all the times you've competed against the Patriots, did it ever cross your mind that you were going against a team that sort of promoted a culture of cheating and skirting the rules? Did you worry about that as an opposing head coach?

A: I think your job as a coach is to prepare your team to the best of your ability and that's what I did. I saw the Patriots as obviously a very capable opponent and that was really how I prepared. There are other things that go in to it as far as anytime you travel to a team you are conscious of leaving playbooks, stuff like that, around. You're always conscious of that. That would be no different than any other team as far as playing a team. To me, the only thing I focused on was playing the Patriots. Getting my team ready to play against that opponent, not anything else.

Q: If he is suspended for the full four games, does this change how you view the division?

A: Last I looked it's still the New England Patriots and they did win the Super Bowl right? That's the last I looked, but to me we're focused on getting our team better and I don't care who we play, who is in our division or anything else. This is about us. We don't go in thinking well this guys I playing and this guy is not playing or whatever. That's not how we're going to look at it. We're looking at it as whoever is up next, they're going to get our best shot and that's how we're going to approach it. So looking at it, this guy's not in here, things happen in this league. We're not assured that we're going to have this player or that player the whole time also. Through injury or whatever, things happen. One thing I can tell you is that we will be prepared to play against whoever we play. Again, I'm not feeling sorry for anybody. We're going to play. Whoever shows up, we'll play against them and we'll be prepared.

Q: You have 13 receivers on the roster now and inevitably a couple of good players may get squeezed out. What do you think about the competition there?

A: I think it is great competition. I think it's great for the defense too, to go up against good football players every day. You're right, we'll have to cut some. There's some guys that might not make our team quite honestly. But that is a deep talented group there is no question about it. Especially for the team that's going to run the ball the way we say we are. But all kidding aside, it is a good group and that might not be the only position where we let some really good capable NFL players go.

Q: This past weekend was the first time you saw the rookie draft class go through one of your practices. What did you see from them?

A: Well I was impressed with them. I think mentally they're on top of it, so I think that's it. They also realize that they better step up that way or it's going to be tough for me to perform physically. It's a good group. I think guys are definitely in their books and they're running around. We never did the team deal. I think when we looked at it, for us you don't know how much training guys have done. You don't know if guys have been on the banquet circuit, guys have been traveling around and going to different clubs. So it's tough because you never want to expose our team to those 11 on 11 situations. We did run some skelly things, but I kind of wanted to prevent some of that if we could. But I thought it was good from a mental standpoint and that was the important thing for us. Just to get them ready to be out here, albeit just on going through air. But at least mentally to where they're ready to step in and have a chance to not be too far behind the veteran players.

Q: Did any of them pop out and catch your eye?

A: Yeah, (Ronald) Darby initially. His quickness, change of direction and things like that was impressive. (Nick) O'Leary caught a bunch of balls. Those are the main two guys that jumped out. Tony Steward, you're doing seven on seven, so there's not as much inside run and all that stuff. You really can't show that in these camps. And of course with John Miller, he's just doing the individual things. But we got him in there and I saw him today he was running with the first team. That doesn't mean he stays there, but he's already fitting in to where you put him out there with the ones. Mentally, that's pretty impressive that he goes in and it wasn't like we had to slow things down because he was in there.

Q: Your depth behind Preston Brown and Nigel Bradham is pretty young, what do you make of that? Also what are your impressions of Jimmy Gaines?

A: Well I'll tell you the first guy that I'll talk about is (Ty) Powell. Powell has been the most impressive for me. He's just smart, picks things up quick and obviously he was more of a special team's guy. Quite honestly if he doesn't play a snap, that is fine by me because that means Preston Brown is playing. But I like Powell, I think he really has jumped out to me. That would be the number one guy. Then obviously we drafted Tony Steward for a reason. We think that he is going to be able to add to us on special teams and provide depth. With Gaines, I think there is another guy that he's been here awhile, he was also at the rookie camp as well. We'll see what he can do. I like the look in his eyes, I think he works extremely hard so he'll add to that competition as well. We got the (A.J.) Tarpley kid from Stanford. He's back there and this just in he's pretty smart. I did say Stanford. It'll be good. I think it will be good competition.

Q: Can you go over why you brought back Alex Carrington?

A: The first thing that jumped out at me is this is the guy that blocks all the kicks. It is unbelievable. It is such a knack for it. The only guy that I remember that did it better was a guy named Alan Page. Now if we can get Carrington to play like Alan Page as a defensive tackle that would be fine. That is what jumps out at me. Athletic, big, smart, let's bring him back here and see what he can do. Working under a guy like Karl Dunbar, he's going to benefit from as well and let's see what type of player he can be. But I'm excited about that group. You've got (Corbin) Bryant in there, you've got (Stefan) Charles, you've got different guys. You've got (Jarius) Wynn. So that's another group that we have some good football players there.

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