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Rex: QB decision flap ‘mountain out of molehill’

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CORTLAND, N.Y. (AP) - Rex Ryan isn't sure what all the fuss is about.

Sure, general manager John Idzik wouldn't say the coach has the final call on determining the New York Jets' starting quarterback. But Ryan is on board with that, and insisted he always has been.

"I think you guys are making a mountain out of a molehill, to be honest with you," Ryan said Sunday. "Ever since I've been here, and this is my fifth year here, not one decision has ever been made by one man. Not one decision. And that's whether it's who's up, who is active, who's going to be the starter at this and this, who we draft.

"It's always a group effort on what is best for this team."

On Saturday, Idzik raised some eyebrows when he repeatedly said the quarterback decision _ along with other roster spots _ would be a "collaborative effort." He insisted that he, Ryan and others in the organization talk constantly as they evaluate the entire roster.

But, the final call on whether the quarterback is Mark Sanchez or Geno Smith won't be Ryan's alone.

"There's a lot of teams in this league where the head coach does not have the final say on who makes the 53-man roster," Ryan said.

In the past, however, Ryan has claimed sole responsibility for some decisions. In 2009, the coach said it was "strictly my decision" when he chose Sanchez over Kellen Clemens to be the starting quarterback. Last year, Ryan also said it was all his call to bench Sanchez in favor of Greg McElroy _ but acknowledged Sunday that he said that to funnel all criticism to him.

"I just figured instead of everybody harping on whoever somebody wanted to throw arrows at," Ryan said, " (if) it would come up, it would be launched at me."

Ryan also recently implied that the decision on the quarterback this preseason would be made by him "if there's a split camp or whatever." He backed off that, though, Sunday.

"It's always a group effort on what is best for this year," he said. "And so, if I misspoke or misled in any way, shape or form, that's it."

There have, however, been several other examples of Ryan collaborating on decisions. During the 2010 season of HBO's "Hard Knocks," Ryan, then-general manager Mike Tannenbaum, and former coordinators Brian Schottenheimer and Mike Pettine were often shown debating over which guys to cut or keep on the roster.

When it comes to making that final call on the quarterback in a few weeks, Ryan will be the one who sits down with Sanchez and Smith and delivers that news. He'll also be the one to tell the media.

"But at no time is it a one-man show," he said. "It's always a team decision. And that's the way it's always been. Whether it's talking about a player, or talking about the draft."

While Ryan is considered by many to be in a make-or-break season, he insists that he has "100 percent support" from Idzik to owner Woody Johnson and the rest of the organization.

"Our thought process is so similar, John and I, that we are side by side on almost (everything)," Ryan said. "It's so smooth. ... You guys are trying to make this a situation that doesn't exist."

For the quarterbacks themselves, this has been a pretty even camp, which should make for an interesting few weeks if it keeps up. Both Smith and Sanchez were solid in the practice Sunday, which resumed 5 hours after it was suspended because of severe weather.

Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said Smith was "outstanding" in retaining what he learned in the offseason and carrying over into the early part of training camp.

"I can tell you one thing: Marty's telling the truth," a confident Smith said. "You know, I study it, I work hard at it. This is my job, this is what I love to do and that's just it. I'm always going to be the same person, always going to be the same hard working quarterback I've always been and that's carried me so far and it's going to continue to carry me."

Meanwhile, Sanchez is looking to keep his starting job as he enters his fifth NFL season. He enjoyed early success by helping lead the Jets to consecutive AFC title games his first two years, but has struggled mightily since.

Running back Joe McKnight, a former college teammate at Southern California, thinks Sanchez is ready to play "mad" this season.

"He knows how I am and how competitive I am," Sanchez said. "We've been around each other for a long time and I want to come in here, win the job, play well for the team and be a part of the team that brings this franchise back."

In other words, neither Sanchez nor McKnight want to leave any doubt that they are the right guy for the job when the regular season begins.

"Every position, and certainly the quarterback, will be evaluated every day, every play, every practice," Mornhinweg said. "Normally is what happens is one man significantly removes himself from the other fellows. So, when that happens, there'll be a time where we'll make that call. The tougher one is when it's very, very close and so we'll be ready for that and then you go on some gut instincts there."

NOTES: CB Dee Milliner, the No. 9 overall pick, remained unsigned _ leaving him and Tennessee G Chance Warmack (No. 10) as the only first-rounders to have not signed. ... Smith had the throw of the practice, effortlessly zipping a 50-yard pass to Stephen Hill. ... RB Chris Ivory (hamstring) was in pads but didn't practice, while TE Kellen Winslow and WR Braylon Edwards got a rest day. Ivory hopes to return as soon as Monday.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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