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Rex Ryan plays dumb on Tim Tebow's cracked ribs

2:24 PM, Nov 23, 2012   |    comments
Tim Tebow stands next to head coach Rex Ryan of the New York Jets late in the fourth quarter against the New England Patriots on November 22, 2012 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The New England Patriots defeated the New York Jets 49-19.(Photo: Elsa, Getty Images)
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New York Jets coach Rex Ryan revealed during a conference call on Friday he didn't know quarterback Tim Tebow had two fractured ribs until Wednesday of this week, 10 days after Tebow claims he initially suffered the injury in a loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

Tebow was dressed for Thursday night's blowout loss to the New England Patriots but did not play a snap.

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"I was told the day before about his cracked ribs and literally I saw him, but that was when I found out about him having the cracked ribs," Ryan told reporters one day after the Jets dropped to 4-7 thanks to a 49-19 pounding from their divisional rivals. "I don't know the exact specifics of it. I'm not sure what showed the cracked ribs. I'm not sure, guys. When I found out and I was talking to Tim, and he said he had sore ribs, I don't think he knew."

Ryan added, "It was never told to me that he couldn't play. In fact, it was just the opposite. It was me saying, 'No, we're not going to play him unless we absolutely have to.' Again, it was something I went in and absolutely said, 'Listen, I don't want you to play him.' I told that to (special teams coach Mike) Westhoff, I told that to (offensive coordinator) Tony (Sparano). I did not feel comfortable, and that's the truth."

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So that leads right up to the next question: Why was Tebow in uniform? Why not third quarterback Greg McElroy instead. If Tebow wasn't going into the game unless it was - and this is Ryan's word - an "emergency," why wasn't he deactivated?

Ryan replied by saying Tebow "absolutely 100 percent could have played in that game," and that he would've been comfortable sending Tebow in there had starter Mark Sanchez been forced to leave the game after banging his head following his collision with guard Brandon Moore's butt on one of the worst-looking fumbles of all time.

"My understanding is guys have played with this injury and, regardless of the position, guys have played through cracked ribs and things," Ryan 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."

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Ryan said whether Tebow is active for the Jets' game against the Arizona Cardinals on Dec. 2 has yet to be determined.

In the meantime, Sanchez remains the starter after going 26-for-36 for 301 yards, a garbage-time touchdown and a costly interception as the Jets were driving during a scoreless first quarter.

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"I believe in Mark," Ryan said. "I definitely believe in Mark, and I've always said I think he gives us the best opportunity to win. And that's how I feel."

Ryan also believes in his team's ability to somehow turn this thing around soon and, while the playoffs seem like only a dream, he hopes to get some momentum going through the season's final month.

That might determine how much house-cleaning owner Woody Johnson does before the 2013 season.

"I'm responsible for everything. I'm responsible for the 4-7 record, I'm responsible for how we play," Ryan said. "But I will say this: I'll also be responsible for how we finish and I am confident we'll finish."

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