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Rex defends activating Tebow vs. New England

Tim Tebow looks on during warm-ups before a

Tim Tebow looks on during warm-ups before a game against the Houston Texans at MetLife Stadium. (Oct. 8, 2012) Credit: Getty

Perhaps worse than defending his decision to activate an injured Tim Tebow was Rex Ryan’s claim that he didn’t know the extent of the backup quarterback’s rib injury until the day before the Jets’ Thanksgiving Night showdown with New England.

The Jets coach said on a conference call Monday that he didn’t know Tebow had suffered two fractured ribs in Week 10 until Wednesday  – an odd statement considering he’s … well … the head coach.

Ryan claimed both he and the backup quarterback – whose "ribs" injury was listed on Wednesday's report – initially thought sore ribs was the extent of Tebow's issues following their loss to the Seahawks on Nov. 11. Tebow continued to practice, according to Ryan, despite the fact that his injury progressively worsened.

(See updated Tim Tebow rib injury timeline here.)

The coach chose not to activate third-stringer Greg McElroy for Thursday's game against New England -- even though Ryan knew during pregame warmups that he had no real intention of using Tebow.

“People have played with cracked ribs and all that stuff. It was told to me that he could play. But I wasn’t going to play him unless it was an absolute emergency,” the coach said. “Tim came to me, he’s like ‘I can play. I want to play.’ Again, it was something that I went in and absolutely said, ‘Listen, I don’t want you to play him.’ I told that to (special teams coordinator Mike) Westhoff, I told that to (offensive coordinator) Tony (Sparano). He was cleared to play, but I was not going to do it. That’s the truth.”

However, Ryan said after the game Thursday night that he would have used Tebow if they "absolutely" had to win the game.

So Ryan wants us to believe that if the game was on the line, he would have turned to Tebow and his cracked ribs to deliver home a victory? The same Tebow that averages a handful of snaps a game and is mostly used in punt protection?

“My understanding is guys have played with this injury and, regardless of the position, guys have played through cracked ribs and things,” the coach said. “I’m not a doctor or whatever but he was cleared to play. Let's make sure we understand that, that he was cleared to play.”

Mark Sanchez will remain the starter as the team begins its preparation for Arizona next week, but it’s unclear if Tebow will be sidelined due to injury.

So that means McElroy will be active for Sunday’s game, right?

“We’ll see how the week progresses,” Ryan said. 

New York Sports