FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has taken heat this week for playing All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski on the extra point unit, where Gronkowski was injured late in Sunday's win over the Indianapolis Colts.
The New York Post's back cover on Tuesday mocked Belichick for the move, offering the headline of "Thanks Bill!" with the added zinger of "Jets lickin' their chops as butterball Belichick's brainlock shelves Gronk."
During his Tuesday conference call with New England reporters, New York Jets coach Rex Ryan defended Belichick's decision, saying it was commonplace in the NFL for starters to play on special-teams units.
"Absolutely ridiculous. He's on an extra point, he's done that probably a zillion -- he's probably done it a hundred times this year, for the simple fact that that's how many points they've scored, but you never see that [a serious injury]," Ryan said.
"Every single team in the league [does that]. We have [offensive tackle] D'Brickashaw Ferguson [on special teams]. We have whoever the player is," Ryan added.
Belichick defended the move on Monday, telling WEEI that "football players play," and adding, "you tell me which guys are going to get hurt and I'll get them out of there."
Ryan shares the opinion.
"You don't play the game that way," he said. "It's just an unfortunate thing. That's just a freak deal that that would happen."