Jets coach expects leading tackler Harris to play

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York Jets linebacker David Harris missed practice on Wednesday because of an ankle injury but coach Rex Ryan expects him to play in Saturday's NFL playoff game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

"I think he'll go just because of the guy he is," Ryan told reporters of Harris, the best tackler on the NFL's meanest defense. "I know he's jogging on it, so hopefully he'll be able to practice, but, more importantly, play."

The Jets, needing a victory to qualify for the playoffs, trounced the visiting Bengals 37-0 on Sunday in the regular season finale. The AFC North champion Bengals had already qualified for the playoffs and rested many of their starters.

"It is strange ... because you know each other so well," said Ryan. "In the preparation, you're watching almost the same video that you were preparing for. But if you don't prepare like it's a new opponent, you're kidding yourself."

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis will have starting running back Cedric Benson returning to action for the rematch but was making no excuses for last weekend's lopsided loss.

"We have to go and play better football. We didn't play good enough football," Lewis said. "We got our butts kicked.

"It really doesn't matter whether you lost by one point or 30 points, or in this case, 37. I don't want to lose a game ever, but we did lose and now it's behind us."

Ryan, meanwhile, is proud of the defense that allowed the fewest points in the NFL and believes his squad can beat anyone.

"The way we came out of the tunnel ... there is a buzz in this locker room," Ryan said. "There is confidence.

"I know we're going to put forth everything we have, every ounce of energy and preparation. We have an unbelievable opportunity and we're going to try to take advantage of it." (Writing by Larry Fine, Editing by Greg Stutchbury)