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Rex D-lighted about Wilkerson, Coples

Jets defenders David Harris and Muhammad Wilkerson celebrate

Jets defenders David Harris and Muhammad Wilkerson celebrate a sack against the Arizona Cardinals at MetLife Stadium. (Dec. 2, 2012) Credit: Jim McIsaac

Rex Ryan, as you would expect, praised his defense on Monday after Sunday’s 17-10 win at Jacksonville, especially defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson, who had one sack and three tackles.

“Muhammad Wilkerson, I promise you he gets a vote for Pro Bowl from Jacksonville,” Ryan said. “I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. Dominant performance from Mo. We seem like we say it each week. Clearly, he’s the guy we talked about at the beginning of the year.

“For an interior lineman, he’s just doing an incredible job. Statistically, he had one sack, but he beat his guy over and over and over. Backs were having to pick him up. It’s rare that you have an interior lineman get the attention from the backs. Usually that’s assigned to an outside edge rusher, but the backs were helping on Mo time and time again. It just shows you what the teams are thinking about this guy. What a performance by him.”

Ryan was also happy with the play of defensive end Quinton Coples, who Ryan said is also being used inside in his rookie season. Ryan called Coples “country-strong” and an improving pass-rusher. Coples had one sack and two tackles.

Ryan was less pleased with Kenrick Ellis, who has been slow to return to form after a knee injury. Ellis, who like Wilkerson is a second-year pro, had one tackle.

The Jets’ plan is for this trio to anchor the defensive front for a good long while.

“I’m really encouraged,” Ryan said. “You have Mo playing at an unbelievable level, Pro Bowl-level. You’ve got this young man with that kind of ability and I see him getting better each week. We have to get Kenrick Ellis back to that level . . . Those should be three guys we can count on for several years.”

Overall, Ryan said: “Man, there was a lot of good things on the tape. Obviously, I loved the way defensively we were able to control the football.”

 And then he went into how much he enjoyed the Jets’ running game. Ground and pound, anyone?

“It was kind of old-school football,” Ryan said, “but very effective."

New York Sports