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Jets quickly turn focus to Pats after win vs. Rams

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Jets quickly turn focus to Pats after win vs. Rams

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) Rex Ryan has no bold message for Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots this week.

Nope, no fightin' words this time around.

``I'm not even worried about tweaking New England or anybody else,'' Ryan said Monday. ``It's to the point where we have to focus on us.''

After all, the way the usually brash coach sees it, the New York Jets (4-6) need to stay focused after ending a three-game skid Sunday with a 27-13 win at St. Louis.

``Right now, we're just swinging,'' Ryan said. ``We're going focus on our opponents, specifically, but anything we do, we're behind where we have to be. We can only focus on ourselves and just find a way to punch it. We earned where we are and we just have to find a way to punch our way out.''

The victory was a huge boost to the Jets' dim playoff hopes. Now, Ryan's squad has just a few days to prepare for the AFC East-leading Patriots, an extremely familiar opponent, and the teams' showdown Thanksgiving night.

``We know each other well, but clearly when you look at how their offense is, they can run a zillion different things,'' Ryan said. ``I don't know how much of a help (a short week) will be, but I guess we'll see on Thursday.''

Fittingly, quarterback Mark Sanchez wore a white T-shirt in the locker room with the words ``We Will Persist'' printed across the chest and ``Until We Succeed'' on the back. He has worn it a few times during the season.

``That's the most important thing is to not change our preparation and make sure it's focused the way it should be,'' he said. ``But not to press, not to take things too lightly, just attack it the right way, and I think the coaches have really put an emphasis on that. We'll just keep rolling and hopefully rack up some more wins.''

The Jets are tied with Buffalo and Miami at 4-6 for second place - or, last place, depending on how you look at it - in the division, with the Patriots holding a three-game lead.

While it appears likely New England will win its 10th AFC East title in 12 years, the Jets haven't given up on getting back to the playoffs after missing out last season.

Ryan has repeatedly expressed his respect for Belichick and the Patriots, but has also issued bold statements leading up to their matchups. He said, ``I want them to know, and they know, that I think we're going to beat them,'' last month before the Patriots pulled out a 29-26 overtime victory.

Ryan recognizes how dire the situation is right now, though, and that talk means little. Ryan isn't even concerned about needing to talk to his players about keeping the trash talk to a minimum.

``I don't know how much of that there will be,'' he said. ``It's not something I'll bring up to the team.''

There's no doubt that the Patriots remain the Jets' biggest rivals, an assessment left guard Matt Slauson agreed with Monday.

``I don't hate the Patriots,'' Slauson said. ``I respect the heck out of them. They're a really good team - but I like us a lot more.''

Last week was tumultuous for the Jets, with anonymous teammates taking shots at Tim Tebow in a newspaper report, and Woody Johnson meeting with Ryan, general manager Mike Tannenbaum and others, according to another report. A loss to the Rams might have signaled the start of a season unraveling. Instead, there's a new sense of confidence around the team.

It certainly helped that a few of the teams the Jets are chasing in the playoff picture lost Sunday, including Pittsburgh (6-4), Indianapolis (6-4) and San Diego (4-6). Not that Ryan and his team noticed, of course.

``We're not getting into that now,'' Ryan said. ``We know we have to get better.''

The play of Sanchez on Sunday was a good start. The beleaguered starting quarterback had his most efficient performance in more than a month, going 15 of 20 for 178 yards and a touchdown, and most importantly, no turnovers. Ryan and the Jets have stood by Sanchez all season despite the increasing calls from fans and media for the team to give Tebow a chance to save the season.

``It's part of the job,'' Sanchez said. ``It's just the way things go when things don't go right on the field. It's natural, and it's a little more enhanced here in a market like this, so it's part of the territory. I've been there before and it doesn't really affect what we've been doing.''

At least for a few days, Sanchez quieted all that chatter.

``I think he needed it just like the rest of us needed it,'' Ryan said. ``I don't think he's any different. We all needed it.''

New York is 4-6 for the first time since 2009, when the Jets went on a roll and went all the way to the AFC championship game. While it may seem unrealistic to some that the Jets could produce a similar type of run, none of their remaining five opponents after the Patriots - Arizona (4-6), Jacksonville (1-9), Tennessee (4-6), San Diego (4-6) and Buffalo (4-6) - currently has a winning record.

``We got better as the season went on, and I think that's clearly what we have to do now,'' Ryan said. ``If the players can draw from it, then that's great. Again, we have a ton of work in front of us and a short amount of time to prepare for, clearly, the best offensive team in the NFL.''

NOTES: WR Jason Hill (low back) was the only player who did not participate in the team's walkthrough - a rare practice under the lights. ... Ryan insisted he has not lost confidence in rookie WR Stephen Hill, who has dropped four passes, according to STATS LLC. ``One thing I know for sure is we're going to keep throwing to him,'' Ryan said, ``and I think this young man is going to realize, by the way, you can play this game.''

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Joe Flacco receives high praise from teammates after first training camp practice

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USA TODAY Sports

Joe Flacco receives high praise from teammates after first training camp practice

Ravens football is back and so is Joe Cool.

The team’s first training camp practice took place Thursday afternoon, and Joe Flacco’s teammates – from offensive to defensive players – mentioned how laser focused the 10-year veteran is.

"Joe always has a lot of personality,” running back Alex Collins said via SB Nation’s Baltimore Beatdown.

“He is a good guy. He’s a real funny guy, but definitely coming into this year, he has a lot of fire behind him. And it does a lot motivating us especially early when we first reported back. Just seeing him work hard and just seeing him get better every day. He’s definitely got a lot of fire behind him this year.”

Flacco is entering the final year of his contract with a lot on the line following a disappointing start to the 2017 season. But a huge factor that is different for the 33-year old coming into this preseason opposed to last is his health.

“Most definitely,” Collins said on whether he can tell if Flacco is healthier this year. “He’s a lot faster as well, by the way, guys.”

And when it comes to the “Is Joe Flacco elite” debate, linebacker C.J. Mosley knows the consensus within the Under Armour Performance Center.

“I think every year [Joe Flacco] comes in with his mindset that he wants to be great,” Mosley said.

“Mainly because everybody outside of this building does not think he is elite and inside the building, everybody does think that way. Since Joe has been here, you know he is one of those players that never gets rattled. You never see his emotions too high, too low. He’s been our quarterback that kinda stays in the middle to make sure everything goes smooth. That’s kinda how he has been this offseason too. He’s come in looking strong, body looking good.”

Flacco’s health is up to speed as well as his mentality. Flacco organized private workouts with his wide receivers and tight ends at a local park across from the Ravens’ facility last week. This is the first time he has done so since 2011. When asked if he initiated the session, Michael Crabtree gave all the credit to his new quarterback.

“No, that’s all Flac [Flacco], man,” Crabtree said. “That’s the leader. We’re just the wideouts. [We] do whatever he says. If we’ve got something we bring to the table, then we make it work.”

 

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10 Questions in 10 days: Is Shawn Lauvao the concern, or is the issue bigger on the O-Line?

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10 Questions in 10 days: Is Shawn Lauvao the concern, or is the issue bigger on the O-Line?

With Redskins Training Camp set to begin July 26th, JP Finlay takes a look at 10 of the most pressing questions for the Burgundy and Gold before the team heads to Richmond. 

No. 10: Major questions at linebacker on Redskins depth chart 

No. 9: What is Kevin O’Connell's new role in Redskins offense?

No. 8: More investments on D-Line, but who goes where?

No. 7: Do the Redskins have a 1,000-yard WR?

No. 6: Is Shawn Lauvao the concern, or is the issue bigger on the O-Line?

Right or wrong, fans blamed Shawn Lauvao for much of the Redskins struggles on the offensive line last season. Pro Football Focus backs up the fans, as Lauvao landed a -19.1 grade, among the worst in the NFL at the guard spot. 

It's worth pointing out that Lauvao was playing hurt during much of his nine starts before getting shut down for the season just before Thanksgiving. In fact, injuries have probably been the biggest issue for Lauvao in his four seasons with the Redskins. 

In four seasons in Washington, Lauvao has never played a full 16-game slate. Last year he played just nine games, and in 2015 he only played three games. 

That points to what may be the bigger issue for the Redskins: offensive line depth. Last season was wild with the amount of injuries Washington sustained up front. It seems almost impossible for the team to have that many injuries again.

Still, the Redskins lost Arie Kouandjio for the year in the offseason. Kouandjio played better last year than Lauvao, and having both men in Richmond would have provided real competition. 

And that might be the biggest question: Neither Lauvao or Kouandjio represent a difference maker at left guard, yet the team did little to address the position. 

All offseason, the Washington brass walked a fine line between confidence and arrogance. The organization believes strongly in the players they already have, and outside of signing Paul Richardson and re-signing Zach Brown, the team had a quiet offseason. The Redskins struggled to run the ball the last few years, and still, the team did not look to upgrade at LG. 

It's important to note that the Redskins have two All-Pro caliber offensive linemen in Trent Williams and Brandon Scherff. Morgan Moses is a plus at the right tackle spot too. The team likes Chase Roullier at center too, and they tried to add depth in drafting Geron Christian in the third round and bringing back swing tackle backup Ty Nsekhe as a restricted free agent. 

Left guard will be a question, and it's hard not to think that it will be the weakest position on the O-line. Should that submarine the group? It shouldn't. What if Lauvao gets hurt?  Then things get quite tricky.

For the Redskins, however, the expectation might be that the line needs to perform as a unit, and with talent like Williams and Scherff, that should cover up any weaknesses.

Time, and health, will tell if that plan works. 

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