Rex Report: Matt wins, Vlad loses

CORTLAND, N.Y. -- So much for that intense left-guard competition. Rex Ryan didn't even need to see a game before deciding that Matt Slauson -- not Vladimir Ducasse -- is the Jets' best bet.

The Jets talked up Ducasse's chances of winning the starting job, but he has lost out to Slauson for the second time in three years. For the third straight year, Ducasse -- a former second-round pick from UMass -- will start the season on the bench.

Ryan tossed a carrot to Ducasse, telling reporters that he will have a role off the bench.

"Vlad will play a lot for us, but right now I'd definitely give the edge to Matt," Ryan said.

Ryan didn't reveal his exact plans for Ducasse, but he said he'd get time at left guard and maybe right guard. No, he's not going to sit RG Brandon Moore, one of the best in the league; this was Ryan's way of pumping up Ducasse, who has lost reps in recent days.

"You're not going to rotate a guy every series, but I think Vlad will play," Ryan said. "I think he's earned that right. He's looked pretty good, but right now we'll go with Matt. He's got the experience, but he also looks really good."

Other notes from Ryan's presser:

FIRST-TEAM TIM: Backup QB Tim Tebow got two reps with the starting offense. Ryan's explanation was a bit curious. He opened his news conference by saying that Mark Sanchez was "so hot" in a third-down drill that he decided to pull his starter to give the defense a chance. Sanchez was 3-for-4 -- hardly a sustained tear. More than likely, Ryan wanted to see Tebow against the blitz. Tebow has a propensity for holding the ball too long, and he wanted to put him in a situation where he'd have to get rid of it quickly.

OPENING PLAN: Ryan said the starters will play about a quarter in Friday night's preseason opener. The Jets are installing a new offensive system, so the starters might play a little longer than they normally would in the first game. Ryan said he doubts that Tebow would get any reps with the first team.

BLOCKING THE BLITZ: The Jets devoted the first team period in practice to third-and-long/blitz. The blitz pickup was exceptional, affording Sanchez and Tebow time to throw. Ryan called it the best blitz pickup performance in his three-plus seasons as the coach. That center Nick Mangold was back on the field, having returned from the London Olympics, had a lot to do with it.

THREE-HEADED MONSTER: Ryan said he's happy with the early performance of his top three backs, Shonn Greene, Joe McKnight and Bilal Powell. He called McKnight "one of the fastest backs in the league," and he said "you don't appreciate Shonn until it's tackle football."

SINGING THEIR PRAISES: Ryan singled out DT Mike DeVito, NT Kenrick Ellis and rookie WR Jordan White as players who have played well.

TOO MUCH MAYHEM: Ryan chided OLB Aaron Maybin for his overly aggressive behavior on the field. He likes Maybin's passion for the game, as he called it, but he also wants Maybin to be smart. Ignoring the no-contact rule for quarterbacks, Maybin hit QB Matt Simms, incurring a sharp retort from Sanchez. This wasn't Maybin's first QB hit. Early in camp, he hit Sanchez, earning an earful from CB Darrelle Revis. Ryan called Maybin a "work in progress."

COUNTING CRO: After scolding CB Antonio Cromartie on Tuesday, Ryan tossed him a crumb of praise. He said Cromartie, who triggered one of the practice brawls, has improved his play. "Can he move into the elite category of corners?" Ryan asked. "He seems to be working in that direction."