If the media is playing up a competition between starter Mark Sanchez and the recently acquired Tim Tebow, then neither the Jets quarterbacks nor their teammates are seeing it.
Following Thursday’s organized team activities (OTAs), the focus in the locker room was squarely on Sanchez, now entering his fourth year as starter, and Tebow, the popular quarterback who won the starting job in Denver last year. Try as the Jets might to downplay Tebow’s role, his every movement was analyzed, critiqued and tweeted about during the two-hour practice.
During a three-play span in 7-on-7 drills, Tebow was intercepted by linebacker Bart Scott, had a rather plebian handoff to running back Bilal Powell and then was picked off again, this time by newly signed safety Yeremiah Bell. When asked about those two interceptions, Tebow managed to piece together a perspective that most of the media surrounding him seemed at a loss to find.
“I’ll learn from it. Honestly it won’t bother me again. When you make a bad play you have to put it behind you and move on and I feel like I did and I went out the next team period and felt like I did OK,” Tebow said.
“You have to remember where you are and what you’re doing and it was 7-on-7 and the first time around on those plays.”
Sanchez understands the aura behind Tebow and takes it in stride.
“It’s maybe more at OTA time, but we’ve been in the playoffs around here and we know what it’s like to have different media outlets,” Sanchez said. “When you have a guy as popular as Tim, it’s only natural. It’s good exposure for our team and everybody.
“His popularity draws a lot of that but at the same time I wouldn’t be in this position if I couldn’t handle it. I’m prepared for it.”
But the attention on the two quarterbacks and the talk of a potential horse race between Sanchez and Tebow is clearly beginning to wear on the locker room. This is just the second open media session for the veteran players since they cleared out their lockers at last season’s end and already the press for quotes on Sanchez and Tebow is beginning to reach an absurd level.
“I think it’s kind of been expected. We knew the type of attention that Tim brings — and Mark too. It is what it is. You have to deal with it,” left guard Matt Slauson told Metro New York. “It’s a little strange for us since No. 6 is the guy. You guys have to do your job. It is what it is.”
Left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson expects the line of questions to continue and reach a crescendo come training camp, much like his other teammates on the offensive line.
“It’s the offseason; it’s kind of offseason talk. Tebow is a quote-unquote celebrity and you’ve got the scrutiny Mark has been under recently. It’s going to be like this all season,” right tackle Wayne Hunter said.
“For me, it’s not something you prep for. People ask about it; they ask about it and you answer it. It’s those guys over there — Mark and Tim — who have to answer it.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer for all your offseason news on Gang Green.