Updated, 5:12 p.m. ET
Rex Ryan announced at his news conference today the latest development at the Jets' quarterback position:
Greg McElroy, who got his first pro start on Sunday against San Diego, suffered a concussion in that game, and Mark Sanchez will get the start in the Jets' season finale at Buffalo on Sunday.
Ryan opened his news conference with a "You're not going to believe this." He said McElroy was weightlifting this morning when he began to experience headaches. He went to the team's trainers and passed on that information and also that he had suffered some concussion symptoms after the game against the Chargers — during which he was sacked 11 times and hit 16 times in all by the Chargers — and didn't tell anyone about them.
"I was stunned by it," Ryan said of this new twist in his QB saga. "Look, I admire Greg's courage and everything else. You have to be truthful — and I think that's the lesson learned here — with the medical staff. The fact that he really wanted to play, I understand the competitive side of Greg and all that, but the most important thing's the health of the players. Obviously, I just feel fortunate that something like this showed up without him going out there again and putting himself in harm's way."
Ryan said he then told both Sanchez and Tim Tebow of the news and informed them that Sanchez would start against the Bills, against whom he completed 19 of 27 passes for 266 yards and three touchdowns in the Jets' 48-28 triumph in the season opener back on Sept. 9.
"When I looked at it, you only have three practices left, one's a walkthrough," today through Saturday before Sunday's game at Ralph Wilson Stadium, Ryan said. "The fact that Mark had success earlier in the year against them, I thought this was the right decision."
"You're excited to play," Sanchez told reporters this afternoon after practice, one day after going through the same interview process in front of his locker, except as the backup QB. "You just never want to see something like that happen to another teammate and someone I really respect. You feel for Greg. And I'll be ready to play."
Ryan said that Tim Tebow, who said Wednesday that he expressed his disappointment and frustration at being passed over by McElroy to replace Sanchez, "was not happy" about the decision to go back to Sanchez.
"That's what you'd expect from anybody," Ryan said. "Obviously, Tim would like a shot at it. But when you look at the situation the way it is, it's a short window, really, to get the prep time in and things, I just think it's best for our football team. It doesn't mean Tim won't play in this game, but I'm comfortable starting Mark."
After practice, Tebow said any unhappiness didn't prevent him from seeing the situation from his coach's perspective.
"I told Coach I definitely understand," he said. "Obviously you're a competitor, you want to play, but I understood his decision and just let him know, just like always, that I'll do whatever I can to help the team in any way."
Tebow was asked if he's numb to the quarterback situation by now.
"I still have emotions and feelings, so I'm not numb at all," he said. "But I understood his decision and respect it and respect him as a coach. We still have a great relationship and I'm looking forward to doing whatever I can to help the team beat the Buffalo Bills."
Sanchez said he was a little surprised to find out today that he'll be the Jets' starter one more time.
"I wasn't necessarily expecting that," he said. "But that's why you prepare like you're going to play and take advantage of the rest of the week and get those reps and take them seriously. I just have to go out and have a good time on Sunday and try to get a win."
Sanchez was benched following his four-interception game in the Monday night loss at Tennessee the week before. It was the first time the Jets' first-round choice in the 2009 draft had ever sat out a game not due to injury.
McElroy wasn't available to reporters today. On Wednesday he took the starting QB's weekly turn in front of his locker after participating fully in practice. He was asked about his health, but that had to do with abdominal strain he was on the injury report with. He wasn't asked about and didn't volunteer anything regarding a possible concussion.
"No, there's no issues at all. It's just a little sore," he said. "It's something we wanted to address in case it got worse during the course of the week. We just wanted to make sure we had it addressed and John Mellody and our training staff have done a great job. I felt fine, no problems."
None until this morning, when he came to the complex, lifted and then got some medical consultation.
"I knew he didn't look exactly right at the beginning of the day," Tebow said. "We heard he went to the trainers, and then we heard what happened."