Jets S Rhodes unhappy with uncertain role

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.”