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Ryan denies speculation of disharmony surrounding Jets

If you listen to Rex Ryan's take on things, all is well in the wide receiving department of the New York Jets. There's no discord, all the campers are happy, life is well and good.

But you know what they say about believing middle-aged men who willfully get large calf tattoos ...

Derrick Mason, who spoke critically of the offensive gameplan last week, was benched in the first half of New York's 30-21 loss to the Patriots. It seemed like an easy case of connect the dots, but Ryan refuted talk that Mason's mouth led to a trip to the dog house.

"No. I could tell you this: The decision not to play him was not related to anything he said in the media," Ryan told ESPN New York on Monday (via "I can tell you that much for sure. You guys know how I feel about it. We are not going to tell our guys what to say and what they can't say or anything like that."

Ryan did acknowledge a discussion was had with his veteran wideout.

"I am not going to get into our conversation. It was a private conversation," Ryan said. "That was definitely not a reason why and we said yesterday we tried to give Jeremy Kerley opportunities and I thought the young man played well. Going forward each game is different."

Then there was the ESPN report that Mason, Plaxico Burress and Santonio Holmes all approached Ryan last week with their dissatisfaction over the playcalling of offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.

All smoke, no fire, according to Ryan.

"That one? This is the one we have a tough time with because supposedly all three of the guys came into me and talked about it and things," Ryan said. "Well that means I was involved in a conversation. I can tell you right now I never heard that kind of conversation with any of them. That's completely false."

Ryan said Monday night's home matchup against the Dolphins was a must-win situation, which might be the understatement of the year. If the Jets find a way to lose that game, the brush fires surrounding Ryan will turn into a five-alarm blast. Where's Fireman Ed when you need him?

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