Sports

Rex Reverses Course, May Play Tebow In Wildcat

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(credit: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

(credit: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Tim Tebow’s days of running the New York Jets’ wildcat-style offense appear over for now.

Rex Ryan said the backup quarterback, recovering from two broken ribs, will be active Monday night for the team’s game at Tennessee, but will likely only play in the conventional offense if starter Mark Sanchez goes down with an injury. That means no wildcat or participating as the punt protector on special teams.

“I’d love to help this team in any way,” Tebow said Thursday. “Whether that’s running, throwing (or) whatever I can do, however I can do it.”

Tebow has not played in the Jets’ last three games after being hurt Nov. 11 at Seattle.

“I think he’s improving,” Ryan said. “Improving to where you’re going to run the powers and the counters and all that other stuff? I’m not sure about that.”

Tebow was limited at practice, as he has been in recent weeks.

“It’s definitely getting better,” Tebow said. “Everything from running to exercising to throwing, it’s all getting better. Slowly, but it’s getting better.”

Ryan said tight end Dustin Keller (ankle), running back Bilal Powell (shoulder, broken toe), linebacker Bryan Thomas (strained pectoral), defensive back Aaron Berry (hamstring) and wide receivers Clyde Gates (concussion) and Stephen Hill (knee) all did not practice. Despite Powell’s toe injury, Ryan thinks he’ll be OK to play Monday night.

Newly re-acquired wide receiver Braylon Edwards was limited with a hamstring issue, but passed his physical with the Jets and Ryan expects him to play against the Titans.

Tebow has been medically cleared to play the last few weeks, but Ryan has chosen to keep him on the sideline rather than risk further injury. Tebow played three offensive snaps against St. Louis on Nov. 18, but the soreness in his ribs intensified after the game. X-rays revealed the fractures, but Tebow convinced Ryan he could play Thanksgiving night — after being cleared by team doctors — but never saw the field.

He was inactive against Arizona two weeks ago, with Greg McElroy serving as the backup to Sanchez — who he replaced in that game and led New York to a comeback victory. Ryan said it’s possible third-stringer McElroy could also be active at Tennessee, but Tebow is still the No. 2 quarterback.

“I feel better about Tim in that role,” Ryan said. “I feel he gives us the best opportunity.”

Ryan said Tebow has not experienced any setbacks with his injury, and there isn’t any cartilage damage or further complications.

“I’m more comfortable with him playing now, obviously, than I was a few weeks ago,” Ryan said. “I feel better about him playing with the way he’s worked out on the practice field, we’ve increased his reps, and the day before the (Jaguars) game, he was throwing it pretty good.”

Tebow was expected to be a major part of the offense after being acquired from Denver in March, but he has had little more than a minor role in New York. Ryan clarified his comments from Monday when, during a radio interview, he said he would think Tebow is disappointed with his situation with the Jets.

“As far as his particular role, the wildcat and all those type of things, we haven’t run it that much and obviously with the two broken ribs or cracked ribs, that’s something that’s got to be disappointing because you’re not going to do that,” Ryan said. “That’s how I feel. As a competitor, you want to win a ton of games, want to win all your games but we’re 6-7, so I think that’s disappointing for all of us. With his role, having the ribs these last few weeks, obviously his role has been diminished some. I don’t think he’s happy about that.”

Ryan quickly added that he believes Tebow is still happy to be a member of the Jets.

“I think he likes his teammates,” Ryan said. “I think he likes the people in the building and the way we take care of our players. You’ll have to ask him, but I’m pretty sure he’s happy with that.”

Tebow has been trying to take things in stride, even if things haven’t worked out how he thought — for himself or the team.

“Sometimes, you have ups and downs, and you just try to deal with them the best you can,” Tebow said. “They’re all learning opportunities, and when you believe everything happens for a reason, it makes it a whole lot easier. Honestly, you try to find the good in every situation.”

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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