FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Rex Ryan set the bar high for Calvin Pryor in the offseason when he compared the rookie safety to Jack Tatum in a meeting with season-ticket holders.
And now, after seven games, Ryan admits that the first-round pick "hasn't had the impact, necessarily, that all of us had expected."
The comparison between Tatum (nicknamed "The Assassin" for his punishing hits as a Raiders safety) and Pryor (who earned the nickname "Louisville Slugger" in college) may have been ill-advised. Ryan billed the 18th overall pick as the hardest-hitting safety in this year's class.
But, to some degree, Pryor is a victim of circumstance. By his own admission, he's had to play deeper in coverage than he anticipated. Nevertheless, his stat sheet -- a half-sack, two passes defensed and no interceptions -- leaves much to be desired.
"Sometimes I kind of envisioned us bringing that ball inside and letting him really hit some people," Ryan said. "But sometimes we've had to put him in different roles."
Cornerback injuries have altered the Jets' personnel packages and in-game adjustments. The Jets also have faced a gantlet of quality quarterbacks in recent weeks. "There have been a lot of moving parts on the back end, but he's definitely right," Pryor said of Ryan, later admitting that "it can be frustrating" at times. "I look at myself in the mirror and I know I have to step it up."
Jets defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman, who apparently was unaware that Ryan had set the bar so high for Pryor, defended his safety to the media. "You guys think he's the second coming of Jack Tatum," Thurman said. "Go find a tape of Jack Tatum's rookie year. I promise you, he was dealing with the same issues playing the deep middle. You don't get a lot of opportunities to get blow-up hits playing the middle."
Tatum had four interceptions and two fumble recoveries as a rookie with the Raiders in 1971, according to ProFootballReference.com.
Receiver Greg Salas (wrist/ankle) and linebacker Trevor Reilly (knee) were limited in practice and aren't expected to play vs. the Bills, Ryan said . . . Oday Aboushi (shoulder), Phillip Adams (groin), Willie Colon (knee), Eric Decker (hamstring) and David Harris (shoulder) also were limited but should play.