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National Football League

NFL Preseason Preview - N.Y. Jets (0-0) at Cincinnati (0-0)



By Scott Garbarini, NFL Editor

(Sports Network) - New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan insists there isn't a quarterback controversy regarding his team, but Tim Tebow will have his chance to try to create one.

All eyes will be fixated upon Gang Green's current second-string signal-caller when Tebow makes his ballyhooed debut as a Jet against the Cincinnati Bengals in a high-profile Week 1 preseason clash from Paul Brown Stadium.

Tebow's action-packed but short-lived run as the Denver Broncos' starting quarterback came to end when he was traded to the Jets in March, just a few days after the Broncos landed Peyton Manning in free agency. The move immediately fueled speculation that the popular left-hander, who won seven of 11 regular-season outings to lead Denver to a surprise AFC West title and playoff win last year, was brought in to challenge Mark Sanchez after the incumbent's so-so 2011 performance and New York's disappointing 8-8 finish.

The anticipated camp battle has yet to truly materialize, however, and Sanchez secured his grasp on the starting job with a sharp 11-of-16, 84-yard, one- touchdown effort in a team scrimmage last Saturday.

Ryan said he plans to have Sanchez and the first-team offense out for approximately one quarter in Friday's test, with Tebow and the second-team unit to play around half the contest.

Sanchez will be working with a group that will be a little thin at wide receiver, with top target Santonio Holmes and slot man Jeremy Kerley both out for the opener. Holmes bruised his ribs during this past weekend's scrimmage, while Kerley has missed virtually all of camp with a hamstring strain.

Intriguing rookie Stephen Hill, New York's second-round choice in April's draft, and free-agent addition Chaz Schilens are expected to be the starting receivers against Cincinnati, while seventh-round pick Jordan White could see time in place of Kerley in the slot.

The Jets, who will also hold out starting nose tackle Sione Pouha (head laceration) and maligned right tackle Wayne Hunter (back), do have heated competitions going on at other positions. Third-year pro Joe McKnight and sophomore Bilal Powell are vying to be the No. 2 running back behind Shonn Greene, while returning kicker Nick Folk has a fight on his hands from veteran pickup Josh Brown.

Cincinnati's greatest area of uncertainty seems to be at wide receiver, where the preseason will be used to determine who emerges as the starter opposite 2011 rookie sensation A.J. Green. Return specialist Brandon Tate enters Friday's game atop the depth chart after a strong offseason, but he'll have to hold off challenges from improving youngster Armon Binns and a pair of rookie draft selections, Mohamed Sanu (3rd Round) and Marvin Jones (5th Round).

The Bengals' first pick in this past draft, cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, won't play this week after reportedly fracturing a bone in his knee early in camp, and head coach Marvin Lewis may elect to hold out starting corners Leon Hall and Nate Clements as well. Hall is making his way back from a torn Achilles suffered last November, while Clements just resumed practicing after missing time with an abdominal strain.

Defensive end Robert Geathers (knee surgery), running back Bernard Scott (hand) and defensive tackle Pat Sims (ankle) have already been declared out for Cincinnati in Friday's tilt.

The Jets own a 5-3 advantage in their all-time preseason series with the Bengals and have prevailed in each of the last three such games between the teams, including a 27-7 triumph at MetLife Stadium last season. Cincinnati hasn't bested the Jets in exhibition play since 1985.

08/08 15:55:36 ET


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