CORTLAND, N.Y. -- Tim Tebow has tempered his expectations, refusing to put too much pressure on himself or too much stock in one game.
The Jets will unveil their versatile backup quarterback to the rest of the league Friday night, but even Tebow knows he hasn't scratched the surface of his potential under Tony Sparano's new system. What he shows on the field in the preseason opener against the Bengals will be just a taste of what he hopes to do this season.
The game plan will be "vanilla" at best, Sparano said, and it's doubtful that Tebow will get any first-team snaps. But that doesn't mean there won't be chances for exciting plays from the former Bronco, even if the Jets don't choose to unveil him running the Wildcat.
First-team offensive and defensive players will play about a quarter (or between 12 and 15 plays, Sparano said). Tebow and the rest of the second-teamers could play as many as two quarters.
But rather than worry about how long he'll be out there, Tebow is focused on the basics, such as going through his progressions and releasing the ball faster.
"Friday night is not the destination," said Tebow, who ended his week of practice on a high note, throwing a 60-yard touchdown pass to Patrick Turner during 11-on-11 drills and another deep touchdown pass to Jeff Cumberland on Wednesday. "It's just another step in our journey to get better so when we play Buffalo [in Week 1], we'll be ready to go."
The time finally has come for the Jets to put their pent-up aggression to good use. For days, they've been saying it's time to hit someone else. Now they'll get their chance. But more importantly, Friday night's game will be an opportunity for the Jets to see their simplified offense in action, and it'll be a chance for even the backups not named Tebow to showcase their stuff.
"I am pretty excited about it, there is no doubt," Rex Ryan said of the offense's progress. "We don't have a lot of the things in that we are going to [use], but we have been working a long time and working hard at it. Let's see it up against another defense, and I am excited to watch our guys compete."
With Santonio Holmes (rib), Jeremy Kerley (hamstring), Sione Pouha (forehead, back) already ruled out -- and the status of right tackle Wayne Hunter (lower back stiffness) unknown -- the coaching staff will get plenty of looks at the reserves. Running backs Bilal Powell and Terrance Ganaway and wide receivers Stephen Hill and Jordan White hope to prove they can handle Sparano's system.
In some ways, the current injuries to the starters could work in the Jets' favor come roster cutdown day. "It's [about] trying to get your first group and then the fringe guys enough work over a four-game period that you feel like they're game-ready," Sparano said. " . . . Part of the philosophy here is to develop those young players."
The game also will be a big first step for the offensive line.
The Jets didn't have either center Nick Mangold (trip to London to watch his sister in the Olympics) or right guard Brandon Moore (Hall of Fame ceremony) for Saturday's Green and White scrimmage, so the line's goal against the Bengals is "really to see where we're at," Mangold said. " . . . There's no script. You don't get a defense shown at you, you just go out there and do it. I'm excited to see how our guys will do."
But being that the Jets have had only 10 practices, the coaching staff has tempered its expectations.
Nevertheless, execution will be key.
"I have never been in the locker room with them, so I want to see the approach with our starters," Sparano said. "And I just want to see these guys play within our system and see how it goes.''