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Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Rex doesn't rule out a Taylor return

By Rich Cimini

When Rex Ryan speaks, we listen.

On Tuesday, Ryan was one of 31 head coaches that spoke to reporters at a breakfast at the NFL owners' meetings in New Orleans. (Guess which coach was a no-show? Hint: He works to the north, has three Super Bowl rings and once served as the HC of the NYJ for about a minute.)

Anyway, Ryan touched on a number of topics, such as:

• He said OLB Jason Taylor, cut recently because of a $10 million roster bonus, could return.

"I’m not closing the book on Jason Taylor," Ryan said. "Jason may come back. Jason made plays for us. Again, you’d prefer to have a younger guy that can contribute on [special] teams, because Jason is obviously a specialist. But Jason makes plays."

• He said he expects Mark Brunell to return as the No. 2 quarterback.

"I can say this: We are not looking for a quarterback," Ryan said. Brunell is under contract for 2011.

• He downplayed the notion that the Jets need to draft a pass rusher.

"Everybody needs pass rushers," he said. "We were 10th in the league last year in sacks and third in the league in defense, and yet we need pass rushers. If we need them, then how about these other teams? Everybody needs pass rushers. Clearly, if a pass-rusher’s there and we think he’s the best player, then that’s the guy we’ll take."

• Ryan hedged a bit when asked if he wants to re-sign CB Antonio Cromartie.

"I don’t want to deal with specific guys, but I will say this: We’d like to get all our players back," he said. "Cromartie had a great year for us. He did a great job in the return game as well, when Brad (Smith) went down. But I don’t really want to focus on a specific guy."

Hearing that the Jets have prioritized WRs Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards ahead of Cromartie.

• Ryan said Jim Leonhard is doing well in his recovery from a broken leg, but he doesn't expect Leonhard to be the punt returner anymore. That job will go to Joe McKnight and, possibly, Jerricho Cotchery.

"I’m excited to see Joe return some balls back there," Ryan said. "He’s come a million miles. He’s clearly the kind of athlete and runner you want back there."

Ryan also said McKnight will get more work at running back.

"I think he’s earned more opportunities," Ryan said. "He could play ahead of Shonn (Greene) and LT in some things. He’s earned that. Clearly, we have a 1-2 punch with Shonn Greene as our bell cow and LT [as the third-down back]. But I think this kid Joe McKnight has earned some reps."