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Delayed QB decision won't 'set us back,' says Rex Ryan

Geno Smith and Mark Sanchez participate in a

Geno Smith and Mark Sanchez participate in a practice in Florham Park, N.J. (Aug. 19, 2013) (Credit: AP)

By the time the Jets hit the practice field Tuesday, the Eagles and Browns had already come to a decision on their respective quarterback competitions.

The Jets, however, won’t even say publicly whether Geno Smith or Mark Sanchez will start against the Giants Saturday night – let alone Week 1 of the regular season. But even though their quarterback competition will run into next week, Rex Ryan said he doesn’t think the delayed decision will stunt the development of their new West Coast Offense.

“I don’t believe it sets us back,” he said. “We’ll let other teams choose to name their starters whenever. But for us, we’re not comfortable making that decision right now. So we want to have a thorough evaluation of our quarterbacks before we make that decision.”

The Jets coach wouldn’t even budge when questioned about naming a season starter before their preseason Week 4 game against the Eagles.

“I don’t want to be tied in,” Ryan said. “I don’t want to be sitting back and you saying, ‘Well, ‘You said absolutely,’ and all of a sudden we aren’t comfortable. For whatever reason, if we aren’t comfortable collectively to make that decision, I don’t want to tie us down. I certainly understand that, generally, those decisions happen before the fourth preseason game. I understand that’s normal protocol. Will our situation be that way? I don’t know.”

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INJURY NEWS: Sans the red non-contact jersey, RB/KR Joe McKnight practiced fully for the first time in a week. It’s a good sign for McKnight, who has been sidelined with a head injury. But while the 25-year-old insists he’s playing against the Giants, Ryan took a more measured approach.

We’ll see how he progresses,” said the coach. “He wants to play. I don’t doubt that, but I think I’ll lean on the trainers and doctors before I feel comfortable making that call.”

Though McKnight has declined group interviews in recent days, he told the Associated Press: “I have to get on the field this week, these next two games, and prove something.”

…FB Lex Hilliard had to be helped off the field during team drills. Ryan didn’t have an update, but speculated the injury could be shoulder-related.

“I’m no doctor,” he said, “but I’ve had a shoulder dislocation before. I don’t know if that was it but it kind of reminded me of myself. He is one tough guy. I mean he is a tough guy.”

Hilliard, according to a teammate, kept his broken rib a secret for “4 or 5 days” and practiced. “It took him having to collapse in the weight room trying to do something” for the Jets found out, the player said.

Hilliard had been competing with rookie draft pick Tommy Bohanon for the starting fullback job.

…DE/OLB Quinton Coples was scheduled to undergo a “medical procedure” Tuesday, but Ryan did not provide an update. A source told Newsday Coples suffered a hairline fracture in his right ankle during their Saturday night preseason win over Jacksonville.

NT Kenrick Ellis (back) was not at practice for the second straight day. Backup Damon Harrison filled in. Ryan, however, isn’t worried about his absence. “I don’t think worried is the right word,” he said. “I think we’re anxious to get him back because he certainly was improving. He had a great game against Detroit …The fact that he hasn’t been out there, I’m not worried about it, but I’d feel better when I see the big guy out there.”

…Ryan said the Jets tried something a little different with Stephen Peterman. Instead of working him at left guard, the offensive lineman was used primarily at center. That allowed Vladimir Ducasse to get some first-team reps at Peterman’s left guard spot. (Peterman getting reps at center doesn't bode well for Caleb Schlauderaff.)

CB Dee Milliner missed practice due to a nagging calf injury, while LB Josh Mauga (back) spent the entire practice in the rehab area doing individual work. 

BLAST FROM THE PAST...The team invited about 20 former alumni players to watch practice, including Joe Klecko, Marty Lyons, Greg Buttle, Rich Caster, Freeman McNeil, Bruce Harper, John Schmitt, Karl Kaimer, Bob Scrabis, Bobby Jackson, Rocky Klever, John Nitti and Jeff Richardson.

“It’s always great to see them," Ryan said. "Invited a lot of them to go out to their individual groups. So that was kind of neat to see all those guys come back. I think we could use a couple of them. Klecko still looks like he can play. ...It was good and I think the guys were energized by it as well. We have a saying: ‘Once a Jet, always a Jet.’ And I said (to the team), ‘Hey, maybe, 10, 15 years from now, maybe you’ll be coming to a practice similar to this.’

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