Ryan's frustration with Jets' chippy play boils over

Posted Aug. 07, 2012 @ 11:32 a.m.
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By DENNIS WASZAK Jr., AP Sports Writer

CORTLAND, N.Y. (AP) — Rex Ryan ordered his players to cut out all the nonsense.

When the New York Jets ignored their coach, it was time to run. And run some more.

A day after a 20-player throwdown highlighted a chippy practice, Ryan had his players run a series of sprints Tuesday as punishment for a few minor scuffles on the field.

"It's just part of training camp," safety Eric Smith said. "We're out there banging around, it gets hot and people get frustrated. Tempers escalate."

With most of the media off to the side speaking with owner Woody Johnson, a few players got into it and Ryan immediately called everyone over to tell them to be physical, but smart and not selfish. There was another skirmish a few minutes later involving cornerback Antonio Cromartie and tight end Dustin Keller, and Ryan immediately shouted at his players and had them all line up on the sideline.

Every player on the Jets (No. 17 in the AP Pro32), from the quarterbacks to the kickers, was then ordered to run about 10 gassers -- sprints from sideline to sideline -- for at least 10 minutes.

"You know, as a big guy, you never want to be running gassers," said 305-pound defensive lineman Mike DeVito. "No fight is worth running gassers when you're over 300 pounds. It gets guys' minds reset and back to focusing on playing football and not the extra stuff."

Added Smith: "I was just listening for that double whistle so we could stop."

Ryan, with his hands on his hips, watched as his players did each lap, and then spoke to his team again in a raised tone before resuming practice.

"He knows we're a physical team, but we need to take care of each other," Smith said when asked what Ryan told the players. "We're not being good teammates right now."

It was the angriest Ryan had been during a practice with the media watching in his three-plus years as coach. Several of the players said it was the first time they had ever had to run gassers during practice.

"He's tired of it," DeVito said.

On Monday, about 20 players were involved in a brief brawl after running back Joe McKnight and safety D'Anton Lynn tangled following a play. Lynn, the son of Jets running backs coach Anthony Lynn, shoved McKnight out of bounds. An angry McKnight then fired the football at Lynn.

The two got into it, with McKnight charging Lynn and throwing a punch that didn't land. Lynn then pushed McKnight — with help from cornerbacks Julian Posey and Donnie Fletcher — and all four went rolling through advertisement placards and into an area where reporters were watching practice, and several players jumped in.

Ryan refused to call it a "melee" and added that he had seen worse fights since coming to New York, particularly in his first year. But for a team coming off a disappointing season that was derailed in large part by in-fighting by players in the locker room, Ryan has been determined to maintain control -- something he has repeatedly acknowledged he didn't have last season.

When Cromartie said last week that he thought he would rank as the second-best wide receiver on the team, Chaz Schilens said it was "a slight," and it was the first sign of disharmony. Ryan addressed the squad as soon as he heard both players' comments and told everyone to be mindful of what they say in public to not hurt the team.

The Jets have one more day of practice in Cortland before their preseason opener Friday at Cincinnati.

"I think the guys are just eager to hit somebody else," wide receiver Santonio Holmes said. "They're taking their frustration a little bit out on each other, which shows what happens in training camp around this time, all around the NFL. You look at other teams, I'm pretty sure guys have gotten into fights throughout their practice days. The same thing with us guys. ... Cincinnati can't come fast enough for these guys right now."

So, Round 3 on Wednesday?

"I bet we don't have one tomorrow," Smith said, laughing.

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