FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The New York Jets’ wacky quarterback situation has taken yet another twist.
No, really. It has.
Greg McElroy has a concussion — which he didn’t reveal until Thursday — and will be replaced by Mark Sanchez as the Jets’ starting quarterback in the season finale at Buffalo on Sunday.
Coach Rex Ryan walked into his news conference before practice, took the podium and opened with: “You’re not going to believe this.”
McElroy, preparing to make his second NFL start in place of the benched Sanchez, was lifting weights and had headaches. He went to the team’s training staff and then revealed that he was suffering concussion-like symptoms after being sacked 11 times in the Jets’ 27-17 loss to San Diego last Sunday.
McElroy and head trainer John Mellody then went to Ryan to tell the coach the news. Offensive coordinator Tony Sparano said he was “pretty silent” when he found out a few minutes after Ryan.
“It’s another bump in the road here,” Sparano said, “and it’s something we’ve become a little accustomed to dealing with.”
“We come to find out that Greg wasn’t exactly truthful with our training staff after the game,” said Ryan, who acknowledged that he was “stunned” to hear it. “He never disclosed that he had symptoms after the game to our trainers. Right now, he’s being evaluated for a concussion.”
Ryan said that there was no way he would play McElroy against the Bills, and the third-stringer will “definitely be out.” McElroy had been listed on the injury report on Wednesday with a mild abdominal strain, but was a full participant in practice and was expected to play without any issues.
“I admire his courage and everything else, but you have to be truthful, and I think that’s the lesson learned here with the medical staff,” Ryan said. “The fact that he really wanted to play, I understand the competitive side of Greg and all that. But the most important thing is the health of the players.
“Obviously, I feel fortunate that something like this showed up without him going out there and putting himself in harm’s way.”
While Sanchez wouldn’t comment on whether players choosing to play through head injuries is common in the NFL, Tebow acknowledged that it probably does happen around the league because of job security.
“You fight hard to earn something and you don’t want to jeopardize that with an injury, for sure,” said Tebow, who added that he has never been in McElroy’s situation. “I think that’s definitely something guys will think about.”
Ryan said that he chose to start Sanchez over Tim Tebow because the team has just two practices and a walkthrough to prepare before the game, and he feels “more comfortable” with Sanchez. Sanchez was benched after turning the ball over five times at Tennessee on Dec. 17.
“Mark has had success earlier in the season against Buffalo and he’s very familiar with them,” Ryan said. “That’s the reason I’m going with Mark.”
Sanchez appeared to be on his way to a solid season when he threw three touchdown passes in the Jets’ season-opening 48-28 win over the Bills. It ended up being his best game of a lousy season. Sanchez was benched for the first time in his four-year career after turning the ball over five times at Tennessee on Dec. 17. McElroy leapfrogged Tebow on the depth chart to start against the Chargers.
“I’m excited to play, obviously,” Sanchez said. “You just never want to see something like that happen to a teammate, somebody I really respect. You feel for Greg and I’ll be ready to play.”
After finding out about McElroy’s condition, Ryan spoke with both Sanchez and Tebow to tell them of his decision.
Sanchez was a bit surprised when Ryan told him he’d be starting because he thought McElroy just wasn’t feeling well.
“I guess I didn’t expect it,” Sanchez said. “I wasn’t coming into today thinking he had a concussion. I never would’ve known.”
“Obviously, Tim’s not happy with that, as you’d expect,” Ryan said.
The news comes on the heels of some tension between Ryan and Tebow last week, when the popular backup quarterback told the coach he was “disappointed” at not getting the start and wanted to play “regular quarterback.
But Tebow insisted on Wednesday that he did not ask out of doing anything, and acknowledged that Ryan might have misinterpreted what he said.
The two met again last Friday to clear the air, and Tebow reiterated that he was willing to do anything the team asked him to do. Tebow will be the No. 2 quarterback on Sunday at Buffalo and could play — but it won’t be as the starter.
“Obviously, he’d like a shot at it,” Ryan said. “But with the situation the way it is, it’s a short window, really, to get the preparation time in. And I just think it’s best for our football team.”
With the way the season has played out, from the quarterback controversies to the injuries suffered by key players, Ryan was asked if this is the strangest year he has ever experienced in the NFL.
“Yeah, I would say that’s pretty accurate,” Ryan said, laughing. “And, we’ve had some strange ones.”
Added Tebow, chuckling: “It’s been interesting.”
And the rollercoaster ride continues for the Jets — for just one more week, thankfully. Sound off with your thoughts and comments below…
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