Rex fires back at T.O.

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Rex Ryan disagreed with Terrell Owens' claim that the Jets are a desperate team because they played a cornerback -- Antonio Cromartie -- at wide receiver for five snaps in Monday night's loss to the Texans.

"Not just a corner," Ryan said Thursday. "Let's face it, he's the second-best receiver on our team."

That was a joking reference to Cromartie's headline-making quote from training camp, when it was revealed that he'd get a chance to play some receiver. On ESPN's "First Take," Cromartie said he'd be their second-best receiver, which chafed the other receivers, namely Chaz Schilens.

On Monday night, Cromartie and Mark Sanchez nearly hooked up for a long completion. Cromartie made an impressive, over-the-shoulder catch, but he was out of bounds because the pass drifted to the outside.

"After he went deep, I was like, 'He might have sold himself short,'" Ryan cracked.

Ryan gushed about Cromartie's athletic ability, particularly the way he has raised his performance at cornerback in the aftermath of Darrelle Revis' season-ending injury. Ryan has often referred to Revis and Deion Sanders as the two best all-around corners he's even seen, but Cromartie "has more (pure) ability than probably anybody I've ever seen at that position, him and Deion. He's starting to play that way."

Owens apparently wasn't impressed with Cromartie's receiving skills or the Jets' depth at receiver. During the Monday night telecast, the unemployed diva tweeted that he was ready, willing and able to help the Jets. The Jets have no interest in signing him. On Tuesday, Owens said in an interview that the Jets are more desperate than he is.

"When you have a defensive back playing offense and running routes, then I think that's more desperate than my actual tweet itself," Owens said.