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Rex Ryan on IK Enemkpali: 'He was a good teammate'

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Rex Ryan hasn't spoken to IK Enemkpali since the linebacker busted Geno Smith's jaw with a sucker punch on Tuesday morning. That didn't stop the Bills coach from handing out a second chance to one of his former players.

The Bills claimed Enemkpali off waivers on Wednesday, a move that should have come as a surprise if it wasn't so inevitable. This was a Ryan move all the way, sold to the front office, and executed in a timely fashion.

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"We all know what happened, obviously it was a terrible thing that happened, but IK, he made a mistake," Ryan said, referring to the Enemkpali punch that broke Smith's jaw in two places. "There's no question about that. But instead of listening to this person, that person, or whatever, we had IK last year, a lot of us were around IK, and he was a good teammate. Simple as that."

Before his abrupt departure from the Jets, Enemkpali was a former sixth-round pick who was projected as a reserve special teams player if he made the team. He appeared in six games in Ryan's final season as Jets coach, finishing with three tackles.

Ryan dismissed the idea that the waiver claim represented an act of gamesmanship with his former team, and shot down a reporter's notion that the move could be seen as Buffalo rewarding a player for poor behavior. Ryan wouldn't guarantee Enemkpali a job, but said he could play a role similar to Jerry Hughes, in addition to special teams work.

"This isn't just a bad guy," he said. "I think he's clearly made a mistake, no question about that. I just know firsthand being around this young man for a year that I feel very confident that he'll be just fine here."

We love Rex, but we're not buying it. You know he's having visions of sticking it to the Jets by turning Enemkpali into a solid NFL contributor. Sure, the move fits into Rex's "Build-a-Bully" mentality (perhaps a bit too snugly), but Ryan doesn't mind the accompanying theatrics. He never does.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast breaks down what Geno Smith's injury means for the Jets and recaps the first Hard Knocks episode in Houston.

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