FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — It appears Tim Tebow will be watching from the sideline again. And this time, the Jets backup quarterback might be in sweats instead of his uniform.
Tebow was listed as questionable for the Jets’ game Sunday against the Cardinals because of two broken ribs that limited him all week. Coach Rex Ryan wouldn’t officially rule out Tebow, but it sounded unlikely he would play.
“We’re looking into it,” Ryan said Friday. “He’s been limited, really very limited in some of the snaps. He does take a few offensive snaps, but we’re just tracking it. We’ll see how he feels.
“Could it be a game-time decision? It could be.”
Tebow was injured at Seattle on Nov. 11, played three offensive snaps the following week at St. Louis and was active but didn’t play Thanksgiving night against New England. Tebow spent most of the 49-19 blowout loss standing on the sideline with a cap on and his hands in his pockets while Mark Sanchez played the entire game. Ryan said Tebow could have played but was planned to be used only in “an emergency.”
Ryan disputed an ESPN report Friday that said he had already made plans to keep Tebow inactive.
“It could be true, but right now, we haven’t done anything,” Ryan said. “I haven’t made that decision or anyone else made that decision. Whether there’s speculation or not, that’s a decision that I haven’t made.”
Wide receiver Clyde Gates (concussion) was listed as doubtful for the game, while cornerback Aaron Berry (quadriceps), nose tackle Sione Po’uha (back) and linebacker Ricky Sapp (ankle) joined Tebow as questionable.
Third-stringer Greg McElroy would be the backup to Sanchez if Tebow is not active. Ryan insisted that players have been active and participated in games with broken ribs, adding that he will evaluate the situation leading up to kickoff. Tebow would wear heavy protection around his rib area if he does play.
Tebow said that he didn’t do much during practice all week and that throwing still bothers his ribs — he’s a left-handed passer and the injury is on his left side. Despite Tebow being cleared by the team doctors to play, Ryan was criticized last week for keeping him active rather than McElroy.
“I feel like I’m getting a little bit better every day,” Tebow said. “Obviously, I’d love to be out there doing everything, but they’re trying to be smart, so just slowly progressing with things every day. It’ll be up to coach and the docs.”
Part of the decision involves Tebow’s role, in that he has only thrown seven passes all season and he is used mostly in wildcat-style packages on offense and as the punt protector on special teams. So, not being able to throw wouldn’t necessarily rule Tebow out from playing.
“You’re not going out there and asking him to throw it 50 times a game,” Ryan said. “If that was the case, I’m not sure he could do that.”
McElroy, a seventh-round pick last year out of Alabama, missed last season with a thumb injury and has been inactive every week so far this year.
“I’m sure it’ll be similar to last week where it’ll be a decision that’s made on game day and just before the game,” McElroy said. “But if Tim’s feeling healthy and ready to go, then he’ll be the guy.”
Tebow insisted that the pain hasn’t made him pessimistic about his chances about playing, but did say that the matchup with the Cardinals is “absolutely” a must-win if the Jets plan to keep their playoff chances alive. He added that he’s used to playing football through injuries and pain.
“It’s probably a little bit in my nature,” he said. “At the same time, you try to be smart and listen to wise counsel, but I guess sometimes that can be something I’m not the best at.”