Greg McElroy, who spent the offseason rehabilitating from hand surgery, has emerged as a quarterback with a much stronger arm. He’ll test it in his first career start Sunday.
It was on display in Week 13 when he was inserted in the third quarter of the Jets 7-6 win over the Cardinals. McElroy finished 5-for-7 for 29 yards with a touchdown and head coach Rex Ryan praised his arm strength improvement after that game two weeks ago.
“The rehab had me use a variety of things to strengthen my hand, from webs to rubber bands, trying to strength the smaller muscles in your hand,” McElroy said last week. “You’re able to speed up the motion of your arm because, technically, your arm can go as fast as you want it to go.”
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With the Jets eliminated from playoff contention and Sanchez’s four interceptions in a Monday night loss to the Titans, the time has arrived to see what McElroy can do.
It is amazing what a little over a year can do. McElroy is now being talked about as a legitimate possibility to become the Jets’ starting quarterback of the future. Last year at the NFL Combine, McElroy earned rave reviews for his score on the Wonderlic and his ability to pick things up quickly. His footwork was solid and the scouts liked his accuracy numbers, but McElroy dropped to the seventh round over concerns about his arm strength.
One NFL scout told Metro that if McElroy’s arm strength had been better, he could have been “a top-four round guy, easy.” Now after surgery and rehab, in terms of his NFL future, last season’s hand injury could well prove to be a blessing in disguise.
“I don’t really keep track of long distance throws so I can’t really say how much I added in terms of yards to my deep balls, per se. The farthest you’re every really throwing the football in a game is somewhere around 50 to maybe 55 yards,” McElroy said. “I can make those throws obviously. But now, I can do it without having to set my feet as much and I don’t have to step into it as much. There’s a difference.”
The rehab process began six weeks after the surgery and by his choice carried into this past spring. Five days a week, McElroy would use webs and bands intended for hand rehabilitation. He started with 10 repetitions for the webs and the bands and eventually progressed to 50 repetitions.
He needed to do it for about three months and instead continued for twice that long — not because he wasn’t progressing but rather because of the benefits of the routine.
During the season, McElroy hasn’t kept up with the routine but he will once the year is over.
“To be honest, it is difficult to find webs that are strong enough once you progress so that is a challenge. Right now, I want my hand to feel as fresh as possible so I’m currently not doing it but I don’t think I’ve lost a lot in terms of strength. I definitely feel stronger than I did,” McElroy said.
“You lose strength throughout the course of the season. I don’t think I’ve tailed off much but I want to make sure I’m ready for OTAs and obviously the start of camp so I’ll be back to doing them this offseason even though I no longer need to.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.