Tim Tebow is ready to play, and so are the rest of those chippy New York Jets.
On a fight-free day at training camp, Tebow had one of his best days of the summer, throwing two long touchdown passes Wednesday as the Jets went through their final full practice before their preseason opener at Cincinnati.
”I think we’re really excited for that,” Tebow said, ”to play someone different and see some different schemes.”
Coach Rex Ryan said quarterback Mark Sanchez and the rest of the starters will play ”a quarter or so,” while Tebow could play about two quarters against the Bengals on Friday night. Whether the Jets unveil any of their wildcat package remains to be seen.
”We’ll see,” offensive coordinator Tony Sparano said. ”There’s always a chance.”
Ryan said it would be Sparano’s call, but jokingly had a warning for the Bengals: ”The wildcat is something that Cincinnati needs to prepare for right now.”
Tebow received two snaps with the first-team offense – something he recalled doing earlier in camp – on a pair of third-down plays during 11-on-11 drills. On the second snap, he hit Patrick Turner for a pretty 60-yard touchdown against a defensive call similar to the one on which he beat New York with a 20-yard TD run last season in Denver.
”It’s not really a big deal to me,” Tebow said of getting the snaps with the starters. ”It’s just two more plays, so you just go in there and try to execute and do your job just like any other play.”
Ryan put Tebow in for the plays because Sanchez was excelling in the third-down period and wanted to give Tebow an opportunity.
”I said, `Hey, let’s throw Tim in there,”’ Ryan said. ”The kid (Sanchez) can’t get any hotter than he is, he’s feeling good, he’s champing at the bit, and he’s like, `I need the reps.’ Yeah, yeah, yeah. … Let’s see the other guy.”
Tebow and Ryan laughed about how the quarterback did it to the Jets’ defense again on the touchdown toss to Turner.
”That time, he threw it,” a smiling Ryan said. ”You can live with a guy throwing it. You can’t live with a guy running it in there.”
Tebow eluded linebacker Bart Scott – something Ryan was unsure would have been the case in a real game with contact – and Turner was able to get free despite being covered by Antonio Cromartie.
”He did a great job, was pretty open,” Tebow said. ”If you can make someone miss on something like that, then you have a chance to make a really big play.”
Both plays – the one in practice and last year’s win at Denver – came against a cover-zero defense, but there was a slightly different blitz used.
”Regardless of our protection, they were going to bring one more than you can block,” Tebow said. ”It was man-to-man across the board – the same play that they ran against me when I broke contain when we played them last year.”
Getting Tebow into that third-down period also allowed the backup quarterback to work on being quicker with his passes, something the Jets have worked on all summer with him.
”In that period, you’ve got to get that ball out of your hand quicker,” Ryan said. ”Sometimes with someone like Tim and a Ben Roethlisberger, some of those bigger quarterbacks, they think they can hold the ball longer. We’re trying to get the ball out of Tim’s hands faster, and he keeps working on it.”
Tebow had another highlight in 7-on-7 drills, lofting a nice 50-yard pass to Jeff Cumberland for a score.
When asked if Tebow might see some snaps with the first-team offense against the Bengals, Ryan said quickly: ”I doubt it.”
A few starters will not play at all on Friday night, as Ryan has already ruled out wide receivers Santonio Holmes (rib) and Jeremy Kerley (hamstring) and nose tackle Sione Pouha (forehead). Right tackle Wayne Hunter (back) might also miss the game after sitting out team drills.
For the first time all week, practice was relatively quiet – except for the three young kids who chanted ”Tee-boww!” throughout the 2 1/2-hour session. There was no 20-player wrestling match, as there was Monday at practice, and Ryan didn’t need to have his players run any laps as punishment after they were ordered to do about 10 of them Tuesday following a few more skirmishes.
Energetic linebacker Aaron Maybin got an earful from Sanchez, though, after he smacked the arm of fourth-string quarterback Matt Simms – a no-no as all of the QBs were red ”no-contact” jerseys. But, there were no altercations.
”I think the guys got the message after yesterday,” Sanchez said. ”No more fighting. Tempers started to escalate a little bit at one point, but guys kind of backed off and did the right thing and walked away. So, that was nice to see.”
Ryan cancelled meetings Tuesday night, and the entire team went to the local movie theater for some team bonding. Tebow, for the record, saw ”The Dark Knight Rises,” and enjoyed it.
”It was perfect timing,” tight end Dustin Keller said of the outing. ”We couldn’t be more hyped.”
NOTES: Matt Slauson appears to have won the competition with Vladimir Ducasse for the starting job at left guard. Slauson beat out Ducasse two years ago and has been the starter since. ”Vlad will play a lot,” Ryan said, ”but right now I will definitely give the edge to Matt.” … C Nick Mangold returned to practice after missing a few days to watch his sister Holley finish 10th at the London Olympics. ”London was great,” Mangold said. ”Holley did great, battled through injury and finished 10th in the world. Can’t argue with that. I’m very proud of her.”