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Rex Ryan makes special teams a priority

CORTLAND, N.Y. -- In an effort to improve their once-formidable special teams, the New York Jets are planning to use more starters than usual on their kicking units. The downside, of course, is the potential for injuries. Case in point: Rookie safety Calvin Pryor suffered a concussion Saturday in a kickoff-return drill.

That won't dissuade Rex Ryan from sticking with the plan. The Jets' goal is to return to the NFL's elite under new coordinator Thomas McGaughey.

"We're going to use a bunch of those guys on all of our special teams," said Ryan, mentioning Dawan Landry, Antonio Allen and Demario Davis in particular. "We think we have to get better on 'teams.' We want to be one of the best special teams units in the league. It's really all hands on deck, especially the punt team. We want to have a great punt team."

McGaughey has said his primary goal is to improve the punt-return unit, which ranked 26th last season. The talent at the bottom of the roster has declined in recent years, taking a toll on the special teams. This year's 12-player draft should help, but they evidently want to get some of the top horses out there as well.

A year ago, only one starter played more than 29 percent of the snaps on special teams -- Davis (33.3 percent). Not far behind were Landry (28.5), nose tackle Damon Harrison (26.9) and Allen (26.5). We'll see if those numbers increase in 2014.

Once upon a time, under former coordinator Mike Westhoff, the Jets were pretty darn good on special teams. Asked late last season about his former unit, the retired Westhoff said, "They're limited in personnel -- and I'm being kind."