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Coples tied for preseason sack lead; Rex preaches conditioning (again)

New York Jets defensive end Quinton Coples (98)

New York Jets defensive end Quinton Coples (98) hits Carolina Panthers' Cam Newton (1) during the first half of a preseason NFL football game. (Aug. 26, 2012) Credit: AP

Quinton Coples may not be the best practice player, but the Jets’ first-round pick continued to impress on game day. With his 1 ½ sacks Thursday night, the rookie defensive end closed out the preseason tied for the most sacks (4.5) with Carolina’s Thomas Keiser.

Coples got off to a good start Thursday, stuffing running back Bryce Brown on the Eagles’ opening drive for a five-yard loss on third down. The rookie defensive, who had 1 ½ sacks last night, finished the preseason with at least one sack in each game. He did, however, pick up a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty for a late sideline hit on backup quarterback Trent Edwards, following a split sack with linebacker Nick Bellore.

Rex Ryan joked Friday that he purposely kept Coples in the sub-package as the game went on to force. “So we played base (defense), and then I’d roll him in, where he had to run on the field all the time in sub,” said the Jets coach. “I was giving him some conditioning and he probably didn’t even realize it.”

“That was why I was putting him in there late in the game,” Ryan added with a smile. “And just kept him running.”

On Friday, the coach drove home the importance of conditioning.

He made guys that didn’t play in Thursday's preseason game run five gassers. Interestingly enough, Coples chose to participate in the running exercises, as did RT Austin Howard and others.

“A lot of guys that actually did play in the game were also conditioning and that’s a good sign,” said Ryan.

Overall, he said he feels good about the team’s conditioning, but Ryan wants to make sure “we are staying on top of it.”

The coach cited their first regular-season opponents – i.e., Buffalo, Pittsburgh and Miami – as reasons the Jets need to be in better shape.

“You look at the first few teams we play, they are almost all no huddle so the defense has to be in phenomenal shape," said Ryan. "I think we are in good shape, but that is something we have to keep doing. I think the way the NFL and a lot of these teams are going are these no huddles and spreading you out and doing different things – fast tempo, up-tempo, things like that. You have to be in shape and ready to go.” 

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