Rex Ryan says Tebow could play RB this Sunday

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Rex Ryan says Tebow could play RB this Sunday

From Comcast SportsNetFLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) -- Tim Tebow might add a new job title to an already-lengthy list.The do-it-all backup quarterback could see time at running back in the New York Jets' banged-up backfield Sunday against the New England Patriots on Sunday."That's a possibility," coach Rex Ryan said Thursday. "The thing about Tim -- with him being a football player like we've always talked about -- by playing quarterback, he knows all the positions. So, can you plug him in at running back? Can you plug him in at tight end or whatever?"I think the answer is yes."The Jets are a bit short-handed at the position with backups Joe McKnight (sprained left ankle) and Bilal Powell (separated right shoulder) likely out for the game -- although McKnight insisted, "It's for first place, I'm in there." That leaves only starter Shonn Greene and rookie Jonathan Grimes, who has yet to play, as the team's only completely healthy running backs. Lex Hilliard is the remaining fullback after the Jets waived John Conner on Wednesday.Offensive coordinator Tony Sparano echoed Ryan's comments on Tebow, and was just as vague."There's a possibility," he said. "There's a possibility for a lot of things. We'll see."But could Tebow actually make a good running back?"I think Tim Tebow could be good at whatever he wants to be good at," Sparano said.Tebow's role has been limited in his first season with the Jets, but he has carried the ball 18 times for 64 yards -- all on direct snaps as the team's wildcat quarterback or in the read-option package. He has lined up at quarterback, tight end, wide receiver, fullback and running back at times throughout the season, creating the element of surprise for opponents.Patriots coach Bill Belichick said earlier in the week that Tebow is "really a running back" for the Jets, so Ryan's acknowledgement should hardly come as a surprise to him."He's a good runner, he's a strong runner, very strong," Belichick said. "He's mobile in the pocket, (a) smart player, he can do a lot of different things. Different option plays and things like that, so you certainly have to be aware of him when he's in there."Greene ran for a career-high 161 yards last Sunday against Indianapolis as New York rolled up 252 yards on the ground. It might be tougher sledding in Foxborough this weekend, though, with the Patriots ranked sixth overall against the run. So, the Jets might be forced to change some things up if Greene struggles early. That means Tebow could see some extensive time in the backfield -- and maybe even get a few carries."Who's that?" Greene said with a straight face.You know, that guy the Jets traded for in March to give the offense a boost?"No," Greene said. "Never heard of him."Seriously, though, Greene insists he would be OK if Tebow took some of his carries in game -- as long as it helps New York win. However, he wouldn't bite on detailing what Tebow would bring to the position."I don't know," Greene said. "I guess I'll see, just like you guys."Added Grimes: "Man, everybody loves to see Tebow get out there and do his thing, and I do, too. Whatever it takes to win."While there could be some gamesmanship going on, as there usually is between the Jets and Patriots leading up to their matchups, putting Tebow in the backfield makes some sense.Many fans and media have questioned the way Sparano has used Tebow throughout the first part of the season, with the former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback playing only 44 of the Jets' offensive snaps. Tebow has shown an ability to make things happen with the ball in his hands, as evidenced by him converting three fake punts for first downs this season.Tebow, knocked for his inconsistency as a passer, thrived last season in Denver when the Broncos made him the starting quarterback and restructured their offense around him. He ended up running for 660 yards and was a threat for a big gain at any time. The Jets would keep Mark Sanchez as the starting quarterback, but by having Tebow lined up behind him, they could keep the Patriots guessing: Will Sanchez throw it? Will Sanchez hand it off to Tebow? Will Tebow throw it? Will Tebow get a direct snap and try to make a play?"I would be ready for whatever I would be asked to do, absolutely," Tebow said Wednesday.Would that include playing extensively at running back on Sunday?"I don't know," Tebow said. "It's not something that's been talked (about) or planned or worked on at all, so probably not."Well, Tebow certainly looks the part of a running back, or at least a fullback after gaining muscle in the offseason to get up to nearly 250 pounds to handle the blocking on special teams. He has also been used to block on offense at times, when he and Sanchez have been on the field together."His skillset would be more based on power," Ryan said. "I think he's not going to be a blazer compared to other running backs, but he's got power."The Jets curiously brought in free agent quarterback Kevin O'Connell for a workout Tuesday, and Ryan wouldn't say Wednesday whether a signing was imminent. New York already has Sanchez, Tebow and Greg McElroy at the position, so the interest in O'Connell sparked theories that perhaps the Jets were considering changing their depth chart -- and shifting Tebow's primary responsibilities to other areas on offense.Ryan said the team isn't looking to add a speedier running back even with McKnight possibly out, joking that the Jets aren't considering trying cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who has played some at wide receiver, in the backfield."We're good," Ryan said. "We have some good backs, so I'm comfortable in our running back situation."Grimes was signed by the Jets from the Houston Texans' practice squad on Sept. 25, after being undrafted out of William & Mary. He's the school's career leader in rushing, all-purpose yards, kickoff return yards and rushing attempts, so he's ready to contribute in any way he can for the Jets."I'm excited," Grimes said. "I think we could really do something. People saw the potential last week of the kind of team we could be and it's nice to be a part of that."

NBA Gameday: Smiling Kings look to pounce on stumbling Hornets

NBA Gameday: Smiling Kings look to pounce on stumbling Hornets

SACRAMENTO -- The new-look Sacramento Kings stunned the Denver Nuggets Thursday night in their first game without DeMarcus Cousins. They look to make it two straight Saturday afternoon when Kemba Walker and the Charlotte Hornets drop by Golden 1 Center for a 2pm matinee.

Welcome to the big leagues Willie Cauley-Stein. The second-year big man went off for a career-high 29 points against Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets last time out. Highlight reel dunks are becoming the norm for the athletic 7-footer as he tries to fill some of the void left by Cousins’ departure.

The Hornets are on a slide. Losers of 12-of-13, including an overtime stumble against the Pistons on Thursday, Charlotte sits 3.5 games out of the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

OPENING LINE
Hornets by 2.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH
Tyreke Evans vs. Nic Batum -- Evans will likely come off the bench in his second game back in Sacramento. The former top pick of the Kings is still playing himself into game shape after missing most of the first half of the season with a knee injury. He dropped in 15 points, three assists in four rebounds against Denver as a point forward. Batum is a versatile wing that loves to stuff the stat sheet. Walker is the primary scorer, but Batum is the player that make the Hornets go.  

WHERE THEY STAND
Kings: 25-33, third place in Pacific

Hornets: 24-33, fourth place in Central

INJURY REPORT
Kings: SG Arron Afflalo (hamstring) out, SG Malachi Richardson (right hamstring partial tear) out, G/F Garrett Temple  (left hamstring partial tear) out, F Rudy Gay (torn left Achilles) out for season.

Hornets: C Cody Zeller (quad contusion) questionable, C Miles Plumlee (calf) out, PG Ramon Sessions (knee) out.

SERIES HISTORY
The Hornets swept the season series 2-0 last season, but Sacramento came away with a 109-106 win in the only matchup this year.  Charlotte holds a 13-11 lead in the all-time series between the two clubs.  

QUOTE
“We’ve got a very solid locker room. Even though a couple people aren’t there, guys have an opportunity to step forward in leadership and hug on each other and there’s lots of smiles and hugs right now and [we got] the first one out of the way. That’s a positive vibe to have just to come to work every day. So I think that’s positive.” -Dave Joerger following the win over Denver

 

Hendriks cites travel, readiness as reasons he withdrew from WBC

Hendriks cites travel, readiness as reasons he withdrew from WBC

MESA, Ariz. — In his heart, Liam Hendriks wanted to pitch for his national team in the World Baseball Classic. In reality, the A’s reliever just couldn’t justify it.

So Hendriks withdrew from joining Team Australia for its first-round games in Tokyo. He becomes the second Athletic to bow out of the WBC after left fielder Khris Davis decided not to play for Mexico. Relievers John Axford (Canada) and Santiago Casilla (Dominican Republic), and starter Sonny Gray (United States) are still slated to play, though Gray wouldn’t join the American squad unless it advances to Round 2 and Casilla still hasn’t reported to A’s camp because of visa issues, so his exact plans aren’t known.

“When I really sat down and thought about it, I’m not quite where I want to be to be pitching in competitive games yet,” Hendriks said Saturday morning. “I’m not hurt or anything like that. There’s no issues, I feel great physically. But it’s one of those things, I’m not quite ready to go into a game, and I know if I get into a situation where if I push it a little bit more, I’m going to overextend myself and I don’t want to do that. And I don’t want to risk this season coming up with Oakland.”

Hendriks told Australian officials he could be available for Round 2, but it will be a joint decision between how he was feeling and whether the Aussie pitching staff needs him.

The right-hander was originally scheduled to pitch in Saturday’s Cactus League opener, in an effort to get him into game shape for the WBC. Now that he’s not playing in the first round, the A’s are slowing him down just a bit. Hendriks will throw on the side a bit more and then throw live batting practice before pitching in an exhibition.

“I could pitch in a game right now … but I’m not confident in all my pitches,” he said. “I’m confident in my spring training pitches, but it’s not midseason form like I’d want to be to be able to perform for that (Australian) team.”

The 30-hour round trip travel to Tokyo also complicated things, with Hendriks saying his throwing schedule would have been thrown out of whack upon his return.

Now 28, Hendriks pointed out that he got to pitch in the 2009 WBC as a wide-eyed 20-year-old, getting his roster spot because a veteran backed out. He’s hopeful another youngster now gets the same opportunity.

Hendriks posted a 3.76 ERA in 53 appearances last season, but pitched particularly well over the second half of the season, setting him up as an important piece of this year’s A's bullpen.

“It’s just a better decision for my career and my season,” he said.