By Dale Grdnic
PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Steelers fans shouldn’t expect to get Tebowed the way they did last season, as then-Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow passed for 316 yards and two touchdowns, including the 80-yard, game-winner in overtime for an AFC wild-card victory.
Tebow also was a rushing threat that day, and that likely is all he’ll be when the Steelers take on Tebow’s new team, the New York Jets, Sunday at 4:25 p.m. at Heinz Field. Tebow likely will only run the Wildcat a series or two, and while he might throw the ball he probably will run the ball more often.
“Well, you never know what you’re going to get when he’s out there,” Steelers inside linebacker Larry Foote said. “He could run the ball or throw it, so we’ll be prepared for both. They kind of kept that under wraps last week, since (quarterback Mark) Sanchez had such a good game, but we’ll probably see it this week. And I know we’ll be ready for it.”
Steelers tight end Jamie McCoy, a first-year player from Texas A&M on the club’s practice squad, has mimicked Tebow on the scout team this week. McCoy, who is listed at 6-foot-3 and 240 pounds.
“I was Tebow for a little bit in practice,” McCoy said. “Not that much, but I just tried to give our defense a good look. That’s what the scout team has to do, and it’s great for a guy like me on the practice squad. Any way I can help out, help my team prepare for the next game, I’m more than happy to do that.
“Me and Tebow, we’re the same size, same weight, and we’re both pretty athletic. I’d like to think I can run a little faster than him, I don’t know. We never raced, but I think I’d give him a run for his money. Coach Tomlin and Coach LeBeau asked me to do it, and I’m really happy to get this chance.”
Another guy just thrilled to be contributing to the Steelers defense is second-year outside linebacker Chris Carter. After an inconsistent rookie season, primarily due to various injuries and illnesses from the outset, Carter was pressed into a starting role throughout the preseason and in last week’s season-opener due to injuries to James Harrison and Jason Worilds.
If Carter gets the call again this week, he knows that Tebow could be most dangerous when he gets outside.
“Tebow is a multi-talented guy, somebody who can run and throw, and he’s a big, athletic guy,” Carter said. “So, we had Jamie resemble him, and he gave us a good look. After watching the film, I felt really confident about what I was able to put on tape in last week’s game. I felt like I did all right.
“It was definitely something to build on, so I’m looking forward to doing that. I played a lot more than I had before in the NFL, but I didn’t get too winded or anything. I played about three quarters in each preseason game, so the coaches put me in a position to get in great game shape for the season.”
More From Rex Ryan
Not only is Ryan more than 100 pounds lighter this season, he generally appears to be a kindler and gentler head coach and decidedly less bombastic.
Ryan, as you all know, predicted a Super Bowl victory for his Jets last season. Well, needless to say, the club fell far short of that bold prediction. Ryan explained himself this week, as the Jets went 8-8 and missed the playoffs.
“The big thing is that when I made the guarantee of the Super Bowl, we had come off two championship games and lost both of them,” Ryan said. “So, it was like, what else is there left. I felt like if we could get in (the Super Bowl), we could win. So, I made that statement.
“And I felt like if it didn’t happen then it would come down on me. But that’s where I was wrong. It never just came down on me. If you watched our players, it looked like they played tight, so it was an unnecessary burden that I put on my players. And I’ve learned from that.”
After a lopsided opening-game win, Ryan had many reasons to smile. That could change after the Jets play the Steelers Sunday afternoon.