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Rex Ryan compared Eric Smith to, wait for it...Ed Reed?


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Yes, according to this article from Newsday.


Text size: atools-uparrow.gifatools-downarrow.gif

Jets DB Eric Smith draws lofty comparison from Ryan

BY DAVID CASSILO |david.cassilo@newsday.com6:28 PM EDT, June 11, 2009 When Rex Ryan was with the Baltimore Ravens he coached some of the best defenders in the NFL, and when Eric Smith grabbed his fifth interception in three days of Jets minicamp, it brought back memories of one of those former players.

" Ed Reed," Ryan said. "That's what that reminded me of."

That is lofty praise for a player that entered minicamp behind Kerry Rhodes and newly signed Jim Leonhard on the depth chart at safety.

Smith has tried to ignore that for now, however, and focus on improving himself every day in practice. With five interceptions already, he is off to a good start.

"I think he's really one of our gems of this camp," said linebacker Bart Scott, whose locker is next to Smith's and has been helping him with the new defense. "I think he's getting more comfortable in the system. He's making big plays. When you make big plays like that Rex will find a spot for you on the football field. It's testament to him, his work ethic and his playmaking ability."

It didn't always look this easy for Smith. When he first learned the defense, Smith struggled often in minicamp, but after Thursday's practice, he couldn't imagine playing in another system.

"This defense makes it fun," Smith said. "It makes it so you can play fast. It's something that I think every defensive player would want to play in."

Smith, perhaps best known for his helmet-to-helmet collision with Cardinals receiver Anquan Boldin last September, is in his fourth year with the Jets. Although he had a strong season in 2008 (32 tackles and one interception in nine games), Smith appears to have lost the starting job with Leonhard and Rhodes in his way.

A strong performance in minicamp was something Smith needed, but that progress was almost all erased when he grabbed his right hamstring after an interception, bringing back images of when he hurt his hamstring during training camp in 2007.

"That one time I had no choice but to drop to the ground," Smith said. "This was nothing, I'm fine."

With that brief scare behind him, Smith perhaps did more in his coach's eyes than any other player at minicamp.

"He's really taken off for us," Ryan said. "He's really improving. Here's a veteran player who came in - I don't know if he was a little disgruntled where he was initially on the depth chart - but he just keeps getting better."

Rex sure loves talking up everyone.

Eric Smith...seriously?


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