NFL

Jets S Rhodes unhappy with uncertain role

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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP)

Kerry Rhodes is frustrated by the uncertainty of his role with the New York Jets.

The star safety was demoted by coach Rex Ryan two games ago for poor play, but believes he'll be on the field for the first defensive snap at Tampa Bay on Sunday. After that, though, is a mystery to him.

``Who knows at the end of the game?'' an irritated Rhodes said Thursday. ``I don't know. I may go up there in the press box with you all and watch it. We'll see how that goes.''

He has played in the last two games and has two interceptions, but was irked by being pulled from the base defensive package after starting every game since being drafted in the fourth round in 2005.

``Anybody would want to know what the situation is, but I guess I don't have that luxury,'' Rhodes said. ``Nobody has that luxury because he's not telling you, either. I'm going to try to do everything I can to help.''

Ryan demoted Rhodes in favor of Eric Smith before the team's game against Carolina on Nov. 29. The player Ryan compared to Baltimore's Ed Reed in the offseason hadn't made any impact plays, so Rhodes' role was reduced and he received what he thought was unfair criticism.

``But if the coaches think that way and everybody else feels that way, it must be just,'' he said. ``So, I just have to take it that way and keep going.''

Rhodes thinks he'll start again after doing a few things Ryan demanded of him - including sitting down with defensive backs coach Dennis Thurman.

``He told me I'd be in there the first snap, so if that's starting, it's starting,'' Rhodes said.

But Ryan has refused to say whether Rhodes has regained his starting job, and was bothered by questions about the situation Wednesday.

``Go ahead and name him the starter, if you want,'' Ryan said. ``I don't care. We should be more concerned with the team than the individual. The guy who runs out there, he's starting. If Kerry feels better about it, I'll start him. If he'll feel better about it, go ahead, run out there, you're starting.''

Ryan apologized Thursday, but didn't clear anything up.

``One thing, the way I handled the Kerry Rhodes situation yesterday,'' he said, ``I am starting (right tackle) Damien Woody this week, regardless of what anyone thinks. I'm just throwing that out there.''

Adding to the confusion, defensive coordinator Mike Pettine said Rhodes isn't necessarily starting in the base defense, but the safety is up in most packages.

``I think that depends on Tampa and what they come out with the first play of the game,'' Pettine said. ``I'd say that chances are pretty high that he'll be out there the first play.''

Rhodes and Smith were rotating during practice Thursday, and Rhodes said he got angry at Thurman at one point.

``Just the in-and-out thing, it just got to me a little today,'' he said, adding it wasn't a heated exchange. ``I was a little bit more emotional.''

Rhodes said his relationship with Ryan is fine and there's ``no real rift there,'' but wasn't very convincing.

``Let's see how I can characterize it,'' he said, pausing a few seconds. ``I still like Rex. Yeah, I still like Rex.''

When asked why he had to think about it, Rhodes said: ``You can take it how you want, but you heard the words out of my mouth. I said I like Rex.''

It has been an intriguing few weeks for Rhodes, who was considered one of the cornerstones of the franchise and a Pro Bowl-caliber talent. He signed a five-year, $33.5 million deal in April 2008, but now wonders what his future is with the franchise.

``It's funny ... kinda,'' he said. ``It's irritating ... kinda. It's something you've got to deal with. I can't just not show up and not be here. I have to play my part and do what I have to do to help this team win. After the year, we'll reevaluate things then. But right now, I'm going to do everything I can to help those guys out.''

Tagged: Jets, Kerry Rhodes

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