FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Rex Ryan expects Tim Tebow to be “ready to go” for the New York Jets’ next game.
Whether the backup quarterback actually plays Sunday against Arizona is another matter.
Tebow is recovering from two broken ribs that kept him on the sideline last Thursday night in New York’s 49-19 loss to New England. He was in uniform but didn’t play, with Ryan saying he could have come in but would have been used only in an emergency. Tebow revealed after the game that he was injured two weeks ago at Seattle.
“I’m not expecting anything to change as far as his availability, but we’ll see how the week goes, to see if there’s any significant change or anything else,” Ryan said Monday. “I know he was active for the game, but we’ll see. I know he’s getting treatment and things like that.”
Initial X-rays after the game against the Seahawks were negative, and Tebow played three snaps at St. Louis last week. Ryan said that the limited playing time was more a product of the Rams showing certain defensive looks than the injury. When the pain worsened early last week, Tebow underwent an MRI exam and CT scan, which revealed the fractures.
Tebow was listed as questionable for the game against the Patriots, but was made active — instead of third-stringer Greg McElroy — after speaking with Ryan and undergoing a pregame evaluation. Tebow refused any pain-killing injections before the game.
“I considered putting Greg up and having (Tebow down), but he’s like, ‘Coach, I’m fine. I can go,’” Ryan said. “He wanted to. He came to the stadium early and he was ready to play — in his eyes and in the doctors’ and trainers’ that he could play. That was why I made the decision to have him there as a backup quarterback only.”
Tebow has had little impact on the offense as the backup to Mark Sanchez, averaging just seven snaps a game. He is 6 of 7 passing for 39 yards and has rushed 29 times for 87 yards, but plays regularly on special teams as the personal punt protector. Ryan was not comfortable having Tebow even in that role against the Patriots after hearing that the quarterback’s breathing wasn’t normal the day before the game.
“We had him there in just an emergency role,” Ryan said. “What that role would have been exactly, if something were to happen — would we have just handed the ball off a little bit? That’s probably what would have happened. Again, I wouldn’t have put a guy out there if somebody with a lot more knowledge than me were to tell me that he’s not ready to go.”
But the decision left the Jets with just one healthy quarterback active in Sanchez. While many fans have called for Tebow to replace Sanchez as the starter to give the offense a spark, others have said they’d like to see what McElroy might be able to do.
A second-year quarterback out of Alabama, McElroy was a seventh-round draft pick who missed last season with a dislocated thumb. He has yet to throw a pass in a regular-season game, but has had some solid performances during the last two preseasons.
“It was a game-time decision last week, so obviously Tim wanted to give it a go and the coaches told me to just be ready,” said McElroy, who feels comfortable in Tony Sparano’s offense. “I did the best I could the entire week to try to understand the game plan and what we were going to be doing and the plan of attack. I was ready to go if need be, and fortunately, Tim was feeling OK and feeling well enough to go.”
McElroy did not take any snaps with the first- or second-team offense during an abbreviated practice schedule last week. He mainly worked with the scout team to try to help get the Jets’ defense prepared. He anticipates doing much of the same this week, although Tebow didn’t appear to do much during the early portion of the team’s walkthrough Monday.
McElroy also insists the fact that Tebow was still the backup over him despite having two cracked ribs wasn’t a slight to him by Ryan and the coaching staff.
“Oh, well, it’s never anything personal,” McElroy said. “We don’t speculate or anything like that. Again, Tim was feeling good enough to go and he is the backup quarterback, so my job on Thursday was to be those guys’ eyes from the sideline. That’s been my role up to this point and I’m very happy and pleased to have that role, and I just want to help out Mark and Tim any way I can.”
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