CORTLAND, N.Y. -- Tim Tebow shrugged off the snaps as if they were nothing, but the Jets backup quarterback made the most of his time -- albeit it brief -- with the starters.
After Mark Sanchez ran the first few plays of the 11-on-11 drills Wednesday, Tebow took over, lining up under center with the rest of the first-team offensive line. He overthrew a receiver on his first snap, but quickly made up for it with a perfectly placed, 60-yard touchdown pass to Patrick Turner down the left sideline.
It was the type of head-turning play that made even the most skeptical of Jets fans take notice. And with tomorrow night's preseason opener in Cincinnati fast approaching, it was a welcome taste of what Tebow can do through the air.
Offensive coordinator Tony Sparano insisted his game plan against the Bengals will be "vanilla," adding that the Jets "didn't plan at all here."
Although most of the starters are expected to play for one quarter, with defensive players being limited to about 15 plays, Tebow and the rest of the second-teamers could play as many as two. "Will we extend the first offense more than a quarter? We'll see," Rex Ryan said. "I think Tim and everybody else needs the opportunity to go against live competition. I think that's where he excels."
But both he and Sparano refused to divulge their plans for Tebow -- and specifically, the Wildcat. "Wildcat is something that Cincinnati needs to prepare for right now," Ryan said with a smile.
Said Sparano: "We'll see. There's always a chance."
Tebow has made strides in his ability to identify fronts and coverages, said Sparano, who added: "I think the ball, every day, is coming off his hands a lot better."
That was evident in Tebow's 60-yard touchdown pass to Turner, although his initial read of the defense was slightly off-base.
Scanning the field during the third-down portion of 11-on-11s, Tebow assumed the defense was in the same "blitz zero" cover scheme the Jets used against him last year when, as the starting quarterback for the Broncos, he scrambled for a 20-yard, game-winning touchdown in the Broncos' 17-13 win.
On Wednesday's play, Tebow got flushed out of the pocket and rolled left. When he saw linebacker Bart Scott coming free, he escaped the pass rush and hit Turner on the corner route over cornerback Antonio Cromartie.
Tebow said he shared a good laugh with Ryan over the similarities between both touchdown plays. But the coach later divulged to reporters that the blitz packages were different.
"It was the same to him. But it was actually a different blitz," Ryan said, adding with a smile: "I'm not so sure he gets away from Bart Scott."
Ryan said he chose to insert Tebow because Sanchez was "rolling" during the third-down, blitz pick-up period.
"It would have been interesting to see if that one was live [contact] if the defense would have got him on the ground," the coach said of the Turner play.
Unofficially, Tebow finished 7-for-11 with a "sack" in the 11-on-11 drills and also threw a touchdown pass to tight end Jeff Cumberland during 7-on-7s.
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