Rex Ryan, Bill Belichick say nice things about each other

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, left, congratulates Jets Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, left, congratulates Jets counterpart Rex Ryan in the 2011 playoffs game. (Jan. 16, 2011) Photo Credit: AP

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FOXBORO, Mass. -- There will be no declarations regarding ring kissing, nor will there be any vulgar shots from Jets players at Patriots stars.

No, the short week of preparation and the precarious situation the Jets are in heading into Thursday night's visit from the Patriots mean that trash-talking and hype is out. Video study and physical recovery is in, along with some actual compliments traveling between Florham Park and Patriots Place.

Rex Ryan pointedly avoided "tweaking" the Pats in his Monday news conference. He went a step further on a conference call Tuesday, calling criticism of Bill Belichick "absolutely ridiculous" in regard to keeping star tight end Rob Gronkowski on the wing of the extra-point protection team late in Sunday's 59-24 win over the Colts.

Gronkowski suffered a broken left forearm on New England's final PAT. So the airwaves of New England have filled with self-styled personnel experts who wondered why Gronkowski would be asked to perform such a menial task at all, and still be doing it on a try for a 59th point in a blowout.

"It was on an extra point -- he's probably done it a zillion times," Ryan said of Gronkowski. "He's probably done it a hundred times this year for the simple fact of how many points they score. But you never see that. Every single team in the league -- we have D'Brickashaw Ferguson there. You talk about a freak deal what happened. But unfortunately, that's part of the game. Injuries do happen. It's just unfortunate, obviously."

Relayed those comments, Belichick was even more gracious to his usually brash counterpart.

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"I feel like I have a good relationship with Rex," Belichick said. "Obviously, we want to beat each other. We're in the same division, and that's just competitiveness. I see Rex from time to time during the year.

"Like I said, we had his brother [Rob] on the staff here for four years. I've known his father [Buddy] for 30 years, whatever it is, it's been a long time. He's a son of a coach, he's a football guy, he's been around it his whole life; I have, too. There are a lot of things we have in common. But this week, it's about two teams trying to compete against each other. That's all it is."

It rarely has been that way between these teams, who will face each other for the ninth time in Ryan's tenure, including a 2010 AFC divisional playoff game. Each team has won four, a sign that no matter what sort of zaniness is going on with the Jets, they come to play against what Ryan perceives is their biggest, most bitter rival.

And that's true even if the rhetoric is toned down from Ryan's proclamation in his first days on the job in 2009 that he would not "kiss Belichick's rings," or from the personal shot Antonio Cromartie took at Tom Brady prior to the Jets' playoff upset of the Pats two seasons ago.

"Rex is a great coach. Whatever he's doing, there's a method to it," said Marquice Cole, a Patriots special-teamer who spent the previous three seasons with Ryan and the Jets. "He knows what he's doing. If he's not talking as much, it's for whatever reason he thinks will be beneficial for his team."

Patriots defensive back Kyle Arrington, who played at Hofstra, said: "We're one of those teams where we just ignore the noise, whether it's about how good we are, how bad we are or what's coming from the other team. We just focus on the game itself."

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