FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- It was only the preseason, but that's when LaRon Landry let the NFL know what kind of safety he would be for the Jets. Landry took out Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz, brought him to a cold stop. It was a hard hit, no question, but there was no call at the time or NFL foul upon review.
"I love the fact he's got a reputation as a huge hitter because, he's clean," Jets coach Rex Ryan said.
That could be in the eye of the beholder. Landry did get two calls in the Steelers game for a combined loss of 28 yards: one personal four for a late hit and another for a horse-collar tackle in the fourth quarter.
"When I'm in the game I'm not thinking about a penalty I'm about to have or anything like that," said Landry, who didn't practice Thursday due to a heel injury that has been medically treated. "I'm just playing a play to win, do anything to help my team out. All the penalties, all the fines I'm not really worried about. ... During the game I'm just trying to make a play."
Ryan admitted that the officials did seem to have an eye out for his heavy hitter. Landry's style attracts attention because of just how jarring those hits look.
"It's human nature to say I'm going to track this guy," Ryan said. "This is a physical football player, as we know, but there's nothing he does when he hits a guy that's illegal. He lowers his target, he does everything the way you want it to be done out there. He's going to hit you."
Landry said he does go back and look at the film so that he can get progressively better at keeping it clean, even as he goes all out.
"That all comes with my style of play," Landry said. "I got to be more cognizant of where I'm at on the field and play a little smarter, but I won't slow down."
Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine said some of the hits that draw flags are hard to stop. He said that if a defensive player launches at a receiver's middle, the receiver might curl or move in a way that changes legal contact into illegal contact.
"Our guys are aiming for the midsection to begin with, and next thing you know there's no midsection there anymore -- it's a helmet," Pettine said. "Some of them -- and you can ask defensive guys around the league -- are unavoidable, but we're not going to back off that style of play."
The Jets are relying on two new hard-hitting safeties, Landry and Yeremiah Bell, to form the center of a revamped defense that gets the Jets back to where they were in the first years of Ryan's tenure.
"We've always had aggressive safeties, but I don't think we've had guys with that combination of size, speed, athleticism with that same mentality," linebacker Aaron Maybin said.
That said, Ryan was adamant that the Jets aren't trying to play in a way that isn't safe, or flout the regulations as currently enforced by a group of replacement referees.
"We're trying to be as physical a team as we can within the confinement of the rules," he said.