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Ryan ready to punch back in reunion with Ravens LB Johnson

Payback is a son of a gun, ain't it?

That's the lesson New York Jets coach Rex Ryan plans on teaching his former pupil, Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Jarret Johnson, when their teams clash Sunday night.

You see, Ryan remembers a little something about last season's Week 1 matchup that has stuck with him ever since.

"He punched me in the stomach the last time," Ryan said with a smile, according to the Ravens' official website. "I'm going to whip him this time, you can print that one. I'm going after Jarret Johnson."

Johnson's response?

"Tell him to come get it," he said. "There's no person I'd love to get a shot on more than Rex."

OK, so reading between the lines on this, there really isn't a nasty feud brewing between Ryan and Johnson, who has no recollection of the punch to the gut. The truth is both men have a mutual respect for each other, dating to Ryan's time as defensive coordinator in Baltimore.

In fact, Johnson largely credits Ryan and Mike Pettine, who coached the Ravens' defensive line before becoming the Jets' coordinator, with his transformation. Ryan was the one who moved the nine-year veteran from D-line to outside linebacker.

"They're a big part of my career," Johnson said. "A lot of coaches would have just said, 'This guy is too small. Let's go get another one.' They fought through that and saw some unique abilities and got me in a different position."

Ryan and Johnson can't play nice-nice too much. After all, Sunday night's game between the 2-1 teams is a big one in determining the early AFC hierarchy. If the Jets try to reestablish their smash-mouth running game -- which has been non-existent through three weeks -- Johnson might stand in the way of some pulling guards looking to plow through him.

That's the surest way Ryan could get his payback.

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