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Rex Ryan: Players must take stand

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Instead of scolding backup quarterback Michael Vick for his eyebrow-raising admission that he slacked off last week in practice, the New York Jets applauded his honesty and courage.

Coach Rex Ryan, whose team is on a four-game losing streak, said Thursday he challenged his players to "take a hard look" at themselves. Ryan said Vick's response, which drew national criticism, took "guts" and was "exactly what I wanted.

"I wanted guys to take a stand and admit that, 'You know what? I can do more,'" Ryan said. "I think that's what Mike is doing. He knows what's going to be said about him, yet he chose to take that stand."

Ryan said he hopes other players take a similar approach as the Jets (1-4), preparing to face the heavily favored Denver Broncos (3-1) this weekend, attempt to turn around their season.

This was yet another curious chapter in the Jets' ever-compelling quarterback controversy between Vick and Geno Smith, who has made headlines for cursing a fan and missing a team meeting. Vick was surprised that his remarks blew up into a huge story, but he wasn't angry. He acknowledged that he "should've worded it a different way," but he didn't try to retract any of his opinions. He said he was just giving an honest self-evaluation of himself.

"The whole thing was just me being very hard on myself," said Vick, who played poorly in a relief role.

Vick, who replaced an ineffective Smith at halftime of the Jets' 31-0 loss to the San Diego Chargers, completed only 8 of 19 passes for 47 yards. He started out 1-for-11, providing no spark whatsoever in his first extensive action.

On Wednesday, Vick said he took his scout-team reps "for granted," and that "maybe I didn't prepare or I wasn't prepared, but let me tell you it won't happen again."

Suddenly, he was being portrayed as a $4 million backup on cruise control.

"I probably should've said I just take responsibility for things not going well, not saying I have to prepare myself better," Vick said. "I'm very critical of myself and I don't think I played well in that game. The next time I get out there, I want to be better. Whatever I have to do to psyche myself mentally, I'm going to do it."

His next chance could happen soon.

With Smith slumping, the Jets could make another in-game change against the Broncos.

Vick's comments came at a bad time for the Jets because Smith, whom Vick is mentoring, drew heavy criticism for losing track of time on the West Coast and missing a meeting on the eve of the game. Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, commenting for the first time, refused to address the Smith situation.

As for Vick's controversial remarks, Mornhinweg said, "It came out wrong, we've all done that. ... He was trying to take responsibility."

Vick isn't accustomed to being a backup, getting no first-team reps during the week. He said he'd like "some reps, but, unfortunately, that's not the way the situation is going to play out." And he has no problem with that.

"It's a stand-up thing," veteran linebacker Jason Babin said of Vick's admission. "If that's the truth, for him to be man enough to admit it, I think that speaks volumes about his character. I don't think that will happen again. It should be a good reminder for the rest of us."

Not everyone was quick to praise Vick for coming clean.

"I don't know," guard Willie Colon said. "I don't know how to answer that."