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Rex Ryan, Willie Colon use low expectations as motivation

Jets center Nick Mangold and guard Willie Colon

Jets center Nick Mangold and guard Willie Colon cheer teammates during training camp in Cortland. (July 31, 2013) Credit: Hans Pennink

CORTLAND, N.Y. - The Jets know that few outsiders believe in them.

But that's OK. Those low expectations are only helping to fuel the fire that has started smoldering here in training camp, Willie Colon said.

The Jets guard and Hofstra product said he doesn't care that opponents may take them lightly, or that prognosticators already have counted them out. Because in the end, Colon said, the Jets will have the last laugh.

"I think half the NFL thinks we should just pack it up now," the Bronx-born Colon said after Thursday's practice. "That's all the motivation I need. I play with a lot of pride and a lot of fight. Me being a hometown kid, I know I'm going to do my best to shake that up a little bit."

The lack of faith stems from back-to-back non-winning seasons in 2011 (8-8) and 2012 (6-10), plus the uncertainty surrounding Marty Mornhinweg's new offense and the starting quarterback. There also are questions surrounding the health of veterans (Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow Jr.) and the reliability of second-year wideout Stephen Hill.

The Jets rank last (32nd overall) in ESPN's power rankings for 2013 -- behind the Jaguars, Raiders and Browns.

But those slights have been used as a rallying cry.

"If you're a competitor, how does that thing not get to you? How does that not motivate you?" coach Rex Ryan said. "It's almost like, well, we're going to show you. Because we don't believe those are true . . . We feel we'll be much better than that."

Ryan -- who finds himself in a make-or-break year after reaching the AFC title game after the 2009 and 2010 seasons -- said he and the rest of the organization "absolutely" take the criticisms personally.

"The one thing about the regular season,"Ryan said, "You can't hide from the fact that you are what you are. And nobody runs from it."The key to their success is simple, Colon said. Just win.

"Winning brings teams together," he said. "When you're able to be successful and you're able to kind of be the team that everybody looks to, like, 'Oh, these guys are doing well, what's their recipe for success?' You know, it takes away the naysayers. We just have to start winning, we have to shut our mouths, we have to grow closer as a team and we have to be as hard-nosed as we can be.

"I'm pretty sure a lot of teams already have us checked off on their schedule. That's the bottom line. We have to show up on Sunday and punch a lot of people in the mouth and wake them up."Ode to Bill. Owner Woody Johnson offered his congratulations to Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells, tweeting: "Unable to be in Canton but sending my congratulations to #PFHOF13 inductee Bill Parcells. On behalf of the New York Jets, thanks to Coach Parcells for his contributions to our team and to the NFL. #PFHOF13"

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