Rex Ryan talks to reporters after a practice in Florham...

Rex Ryan talks to reporters after a practice in Florham Park, N.J. (Aug. 19, 2013) Credit: AP

The Old Rex never would have taken back his words – especially about his beloved defense.

But the Jets coach quickly retreated from his Tuesday comments, in which he predicted the unit will be Top 5 in the NFL by season end.

“See I think I’m wrong by saying that,” Ryan said Wednesday, when asked to predict the course of his offense. “I shouldn’t say that because I am out of the prediction business, but I know where I believe everything is going to end up. I have always said that about the defensive unit because every one of you say, well that’s my expertise. So that’s fine and I’ll just put that on my shoulders. That that’s where it’s going to be.

“I don’t want to put any extra pressure on the players or anything else, just put it all on me. So wherever it ends up, if it’s not good enough it comes right down on me and that’s where it should be. If it is good enough, then it should go to the players and the coaches. That’s fine and I have always felt that. I am not going to put where we are going to rank offensively, special teams all that.

“I was probably wrong by saying that to the defense because I certainly don’t want to burden our players, but we better be there, and it comes to me it’s on my shoulders period, and that’s it.


MILLINER MISSING IN ACTION…The Jets’ first-round draft pick was sidelined for the second straight day due to a sore calf. On Tuesday, Dee Milliner – the ninth overall pick in April – wore pads, but spent most of practice in the rehab area. On Wednesday, he pedaled in shorts.

Ryan said he wasn’t sure if the rookie cornerback would practice on Thursday.

“We were hoping he would be progressing a little better, so this is just a little time to get him right,” he said. “It’s not like it’s a new injury at all. It’s just, we’re trying to get him closer to 100 percent than what he is and the trainers and doctors thought that giving him a little time to rest it will help us accomplish that.”

ELLIS’ ‘FREAK ACCIDENT’…NT Kenrick Ellis admitted he was “showing off” and “competing in the weight room” when he injured his back. He hasn’t practiced since Aug. 11.

Though he doesn’t expect Saturday’s preseason game against the Giants, Ellis said “Yes, I definitely expect to be ready for the regular season.”

As for the injury, he termed it a “freak accident.”

“I was just competing with some of my teammates,” said the former third-round pick out of Hampton. “It was an unfortunate freak accident. I think I’ll be good by the first game.

“…You’re in the weight room and you’re trying to get the better out of yourself and your teammates. It comes a time when you got to be smart about it and compete. Whereas, in my case, showing off and accidents happen.”

HILLIARD TO IR: The Jets announced FB Lex Hilliard was placed on injured reserve Wednesday and they signed WR Marcus Rucker.

A source told Newsday, Hilliard will undergo surgery for a broken scapula.

“That’s really unfortunate because Lex is a tremendous player and also a tremendous person and he’s just a tough guy and it’s just an unfortunate thing,” Ryan said. “You know, just one of those things where you have a 9 on 7 drill, live contact drill, it wasn’t tackling but it was full speed and it’s unfortunate that that happened.”

The team also announced the signing of C Scott Wedige.

‘SUMMER OF VLAD’ STILL ON...Just before the Jets broke camp in Cortland, Vladimir Ducasse told Newsday he was ready to take his game "to the next level.”

Well, it appears the fourth-year offensive lineman finally is showing Ryan something.

“(He) did a tremendous job for us against Jacksonville, so I think he’s really pushing,” the Jets coach said, adding that he considered bringing in video of Ducasse playing both left and right guard, as well as right tackle, for one of his media tutorials.

The past two days, the Jets have used Stephen Peterman at center with the second-team offense – giving Ducasse an opportunity for some first-team reps.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt that Vlad’s pushing for that,” Ryan said, of the former second-round pick trying to get a starting job.

Asked what areas the UMass product has improved in, the coach said: “From top to bottom, you name it: mentally, instincts, physical. This is where you wanted him when you drafted him. You might have wanted him there a year before, but this is where he’s at now, so he looks pretty good to me. 

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