FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Greg McElroy is widely regarded as a smart player, which was going to help him make the transition to starting quarterback the last two games of the Jets' season.

McElroy did something not very smart, though, by hiding his concussion symptoms until Thursday morning.

"Look, I admire his courage and everything else, but you have to be truthful [with the medical staff], and I think that's a lesson learned here," Rex Ryan said. "The fact 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. And obviously, I just feel fortunate that something like this showed up without him going out there again and putting himself in harm's way."

After McElroy was sacked 11 times in Sunday's 27-17 loss to the Chargers, he told reporters on Wednesday that his only real problem was a mild abdominal strain. But he could not ignore the headaches while lifting weights Thursday morning and told head trainer John Melody. The two of them went to see Ryan, who immediately ruled McElroy out of Sunday's game at Buffalo.

McElroy, who was undergoing concussion tests, was not available for comment Thursday, per NFL protocol.

Even if he feels fine Friday, the concussion protocols would require him to go through several tests before being cleared, and there would not be enough time before Sunday to do so.

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Ryan didn't appear to want to punish McElroy for keeping his symptoms quiet. The coach considered it fortunate that McElroy didn't make it to Sunday while hiding his concussion.

"In Greg's situation, he was the third-string quarterback given an opportunity to compete as a starting quarterback. I can understand you want that opportunity," Ryan said. "Every player in this league wants that opportunity, but the health of each player in this league should be the most important thing."