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Rex explains decision to punt Conley

T.J. Conley warms up before a game against

T.J. Conley warms up before a game against the Philadelphia Eagles. (Dec. 18, 2011) Credit: AP

The decision to cut punter T.J. Conley five days before the season opener may have caught most fans off-guard. But Ryan said the team's sole focus is finding consistency.

And he believes they've found it in 24-year-old Robert Malone.

"This young man was impressive," Ryan said of Malone, who twice was brought in for workouts and, according to the coach, hit the ceiling fives times on one of those visits. "I haven't see that done. If we think we can upgrade our football team. Then that's what we're going to do."

Malone, who went undrafted in 2010, has bounced around in just a short time. He was on Jacksonville's practice squad in 2010 before being signed by Tampa Bay. He started the 2011 season with the Detroit Lions, before being waived in favor of Ben Graham. He was signed this offseason by the Chargers before he recent release.

The Jets took a chance on Conley, a rookie in 2011, after they chose to part ways with Steve Weatherford. Weatherford upped his punting average to 45.7 yards last season en route to a Super Bowl with the Giants. Conley, on the other hand, averaged 42.7 last year and shanked back-to-back punts in the second preseason game against the Giants.

Ryan said the issue with Conley was consistency.

"I think T.J. is a tremendous young man and I wish him nothing but the best," he said of Conley. "He did a nice job punting for us last year. He really improved as a whole. I thought that was impressive, but I was looking for a little more consistency. I think we were looking for consistency and I think Malone will give us that."

Though there's only a few days until the Jets open the season against Buffalo, Ryan isn't worried about losing Conley's reliability as a holder.

"If there were concerns, we wouldn't have made the move," the coach said. "We worked out Malone in punting and as a holder. It's interesting, with (Nick) Folk -- he hits that 58-yarder, right? T.J. wasn't the holder then either."

You know who was?

Spencer Lanning.

New York Sports