Rex Ryan has a nice set of teeth. How do I know this? He smiled throughout his entire press conference with the media today after the first mini-camp practice.
He opened with a confession, which was greeted by laughter. "I had no idea where to stand," he said of his first practice as a head coach. So, he of course gravitated to his comfort zone - the defense - where he played quarterback for a while. I have to tell you, for a defensive guy, he's got a pretty nice spiral (Ryan's the guy below in black).
Overall Ryan seemed pleased with what he saw indicating that the offense is already ahead of where an offense might normally be and even the defense is ahead of where he expected. He did make one important observation. He thought the players needed to have more fun. He thought they were having fun, but not quite enough. Ladies and gentlemen, your new head coach.
Thomas Jones did not show up (as a reminder, this is a voluntary camp) so Leon Washington got a lot of work and Danny Woodhead showed some flashes as well. On one play the 5'7" Woodhead (and I think that's if he's wearing cleats), who was a favorite before he was injured in camp last year totally disappeared into the cluster of offensive and defensive players and then suddenly popped out the other side with the ball firmly in his grasp. Maybe he ran through somebody's legs. In any case, I enjoyed watching him.
I asked Ryan if, given the unknown situation with Jones, he felt Washington could be an every-down back. The answer I got, in not so many words was, probably not. While Ryan was extremely complimentary of Washington's skills, they need him on special teams and because of his size he most likely wouldn't be able to stand up to the pounding a bigger back could take. However, regardless, you will see a lot more of him on the offense this year.
No update on Erik Ainge who was not in attendance. Ryan said only that Ainge was taking care of personal business and that we could speak to him when he comes back, although no indication of when that would be. I asked several players about it, most of whom didn't know why he wasn't there and the couple who did seem to know weren't saying.
We go back tomorrow when we will also have the pre-Draft press conference with Mike Tannenbaum and Co.
Fun fact: There are five guys on the team named Marcus - three different spellings: Marcus Henry, Marcus Mason, Marquice Cole, Marques Douglas and Marques Murrell.