When Greg McElroy was growing up in Southlake, Texas, he remembers putting on his Troy Aikman Cowboys jersey and pretending to be an NFL quarterback.

It will no longer be make-believe for McElroy this Sunday against the Chargers.

“I’m going to be the starter and I’m very, very fortunate and thankful for the opportunity. I’m not concerned about next week against Buffalo; I’m not concerned about next year,” McElroy said. “I’m not concerned about those things. Live in the moment, that’s what my dad said when I talked to him, ‘Live in the moment and enjoy this. You’ve been dreaming about this your whole life.’”

McElroy’s rookie season in 2011 was derailed by a hand injury in the final preseason game and he never played a snap. He spent much of the season rehabbing and returned a stronger and better player. An intelligent quarterback who impressed during his interviews at the NFL Combine, McElroy gave evidence during preseason of a command of the offense neither Sanchez nor Tebow showed. He moved the ball methodically down the field and made smart, accurate throws.


It was McElroy, in the fourth game of preseason, who led the Jets into the end zone for their first offensive touchdown.

“I want to see what Greg can do, there’s no doubt. We all know the intangibles he has,” head coach Rex Ryan said. “He’s a winner. He’s a winner his whole life.”

Ball control will be the key for McElroy. The security issue was a major reason why the Jets finally had to yank Mark Sanchez. On Monday night, the offense had five turnovers with Sanchez involved in all of them.

McElroy did his duty as a teammate and thanked Sanchez for his influence in his development. Sanchez said he expects to chart plays and help McElroy as much as possible on Sunday.

“Everything I’ve learned at this position, in this league, has been from Mark. He’s the guy that I’ve seen every day. Every day I’ve been an NFL player I’ve been looking up to him. I’ve been watching him. I’ve been observing him, trying to follow after his lead,” McElroy said. “I understand how to play this game. I’m very, very grateful for the opportunity.”

Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.

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