BY NICK ST. DENIS
Earlier this week, New York Jets offensive coordinator Tony Sparano said Gang Green's offense would be "vanilla" in the team's preseason opener.
He wasn't kidding.
Sparano, who is putting together an offense to be led by Mark Sanchez but also catered to Tim Tebow's strengths, didn't show his regular-season hand Friday night against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Sanchez ran the first-team offense, attempting just six passes and completing four for 21 yards. He didn't take any shots downfield and didn't make any risky plays. Sanchez mostly handed the ball off and made safe throws, at least when he wasn't getting sacked. The fourth-year Jet also had a four-yard scamper for a first down.
"It’s the first preseason game. We’re trying to shake the dust off and get back in the swing of things," Sanchez said, according to the team's website. "Their pressure got to us a little bit those first two drives. The third drive, we started to move the ball a little bit.
"I got a little scramble there, channeling my inner-Tebow, and got a first down so that was good. I got hit a little bit (and) hit the dirt. It was good for all of us. We’ll get better with protection and have a better outing next time."
Tebow wasn't used in any sort of Wildcat package, which is where he'll exclusively see time spelling Sanchez. The polarizing signal-caller ran a conventional offense, completing four of eight passes for 27 yards and an interception in about two quarters of action. He did, however, scramble for 34 yards total on four carries.
"I liked the poise Tim showed," Jets coach Rex Ryan said. "Obviously he made some big runs and that's what we say he can do. If you want to come after him, you'd better get to him. In time he'll kill you running, and that's what he did."
The Jets seem more concerned with getting their offensive line up to speed and sorting out the running backs corps behind starter Shonn Greene than they are trying to test out the Sanchez-Tebow dynamic.
Expect New York to open it up for Sanchez in the next two games. I still expect Tebow's true role to remain under wraps until the regular season, so it will likely be more of the same for him throughout the preseason.
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