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Tebow could step in at RB for short-handed Jets

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Tebow could step in at RB for short-handed Jets

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) Tim Tebow might add a new job title to an already-lengthy list.

The do-it-all backup quarterback could see time at running back in the New York Jets' banged-up backfield Sunday against the New England Patriots on Sunday.

``That's a possibility,'' coach Rex Ryan said Thursday. ``The thing about Tim - with him being a football player like we've always talked about - by playing quarterback, he knows all the positions. So, can you plug him in at running back? Can you plug him in at tight end or whatever?

``I think the answer is yes.''

The Jets are a bit short-handed at the position with backups Joe McKnight (sprained left ankle) and Bilal Powell (separated right shoulder) likely out for the game - although McKnight insisted, ``It's for first place, I'm in there.'' That leaves only starter Shonn Greene and rookie Jonathan Grimes, who has yet to play, as the team's only completely healthy running backs. Lex Hilliard is the remaining fullback after the Jets waived John Conner on Wednesday.

Offensive coordinator Tony Sparano echoed Ryan's comments on Tebow, and was just as vague.

``There's a possibility,'' he said. ``There's a possibility for a lot of things. We'll see.''

But could Tebow actually make a good running back?

``I think Tim Tebow could be good at whatever he wants to be good at,'' Sparano said.

Tebow's role has been limited in his first season with the Jets, but he has carried the ball 18 times for 64 yards - all on direct snaps as the team's wildcat quarterback or in the read-option package. He has lined up at quarterback, tight end, wide receiver, fullback and running back at times throughout the season, creating the element of surprise for opponents.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick said earlier in the week that Tebow is ``really a running back'' for the Jets, so Ryan's acknowledgement should hardly come as a surprise to him.

``He's a good runner, he's a strong runner, very strong,'' Belichick said. ``He's mobile in the pocket, (a) smart player, he can do a lot of different things. Different option plays and things like that, so you certainly have to be aware of him when he's in there.''

Greene ran for a career-high 161 yards last Sunday against Indianapolis as New York rolled up 252 yards on the ground. It might be tougher sledding in Foxborough this weekend, though, with the Patriots ranked sixth overall against the run. So, the Jets might be forced to change some things up if Greene struggles early. That means Tebow could see some extensive time in the backfield - and maybe even get a few carries.

``Who's that?'' Greene said with a straight face.

You know, that guy the Jets traded for in March to give the offense a boost?

``No,'' Greene said. ``Never heard of him.''

Seriously, though, Greene insists he would be OK if Tebow took some of his carries in game - as long as it helps New York win. However, he wouldn't bite on detailing what Tebow would bring to the position.

``I don't know,'' Greene said. ``I guess I'll see, just like you guys.''

Added Grimes: ``Man, everybody loves to see Tebow get out there and do his thing, and I do, too. Whatever it takes to win.''

While there could be some gamesmanship going on, as there usually is between the Jets and Patriots leading up to their matchups, putting Tebow in the backfield makes some sense.

Many fans and media have questioned the way Sparano has used Tebow throughout the first part of the season, with the former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback playing only 44 of the Jets' offensive snaps. Tebow has shown an ability to make things happen with the ball in his hands, as evidenced by him converting three fake punts for first downs this season.

Tebow, knocked for his inconsistency as a passer, thrived last season in Denver when the Broncos made him the starting quarterback and restructured their offense around him. He ended up running for 660 yards and was a threat for a big gain at any time. The Jets would keep Mark Sanchez as the starting quarterback, but by having Tebow lined up behind him, they could keep the Patriots guessing: Will Sanchez throw it? Will Sanchez hand it off to Tebow? Will Tebow throw it? Will Tebow get a direct snap and try to make a play?

``I would be ready for whatever I would be asked to do, absolutely,'' Tebow said Wednesday.

Would that include playing extensively at running back on Sunday?

``I don't know,'' Tebow said. ``It's not something that's been talked (about) or planned or worked on at all, so probably not.''

Well, Tebow certainly looks the part of a running back, or at least a fullback after gaining muscle in the offseason to get up to nearly 250 pounds to handle the blocking on special teams. He has also been used to block on offense at times, when he and Sanchez have been on the field together.

``His skillset would be more based on power,'' Ryan said. ``I think he's not going to be a blazer compared to other running backs, but he's got power.''

The Jets curiously brought in free agent quarterback Kevin O'Connell for a workout Tuesday, and Ryan wouldn't say Wednesday whether a signing was imminent. New York already has Sanchez, Tebow and Greg McElroy at the position, so the interest in O'Connell sparked theories that perhaps the Jets were considering changing their depth chart - and shifting Tebow's primary responsibilities to other areas on offense.

Ryan said the team isn't looking to add a speedier running back even with McKnight possibly out, joking that the Jets aren't considering trying cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who has played some at wide receiver, in the backfield.

``We're good,'' Ryan said. ``We have some good backs, so I'm comfortable in our running back situation.''

Grimes was signed by the Jets from the Houston Texans' practice squad on Sept. 25, after being undrafted out of William & Mary. He's the school's career leader in rushing, all-purpose yards, kickoff return yards and rushing attempts, so he's ready to contribute in any way he can for the Jets.

``I'm excited,'' Grimes said. ``I think we could really do something. People saw the potential last week of the kind of team we could be and it's nice to be a part of that.''

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Otto Porter's status in doubt for Game 6 against Raptors

Otto Porter's status in doubt for Game 6 against Raptors

There appears to be at least some chance the Wizards will be without starting small forward Otto Porter when they host the Toronto Raptors in Game 6 of their first round playoff series on Friday night in Washington.

Porter, 24, continues to deal with a right lower leg strain. The injury is located on the outside of his calf and will require further testing from the Wizards' medical staff to determine his status.

Head coach Scott Brooks addressed the media on Thursday and did not rule out an MRI.

"We don't know as of yet, but he's banged up. So, hopefully we will find out some good news and see how he feels tomorrow," Brooks said.

Porter first suffered the injury on April 10 against the Celtics in the Wizards' penultimate regular season game. He missed the regular season finale, but has appeared in all five games of the Wizards-Raptors series.

Brooks did not make it seem likely that Porter will miss Game 6, but expressed uncertainty.

"Anything is possible," he said. "We hope for the best."

Porter appeared hobbled in Game 5 and has at other times this series as well. After the first two games of the series, Brooks was asked about Porter's health and said that he was "100 percent." It's unclear if Porter suffered a setback in the time between, but clearly that isn't the case anymore.

Porter is averaging just 10.0 points in this series, down from his 14.7 per game season average. Ideally, the Wizards would be getting more than that from their third scoring option.

"We need Otto," Brooks said. "We need Otto to be more of a nine or 10-point scorer for us to win this series."

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If this year is going to be different, the Caps cannot go down 0-2 in the series again

If this year is going to be different, the Caps cannot go down 0-2 in the series again

In last year’s playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Capitals won two out of the last three games and three out of the last five…and still lost the series. That’s because they lost both Game 1 and Game 2 to fall into a 0-2 hole, much like they did against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round this season.

The Caps know if this year is going to be different, they cannot afford to fall into a similar hole again.

“It's always harder to dig yourself out of a hole,” head coach Barry Trotz said after Thursday’s morning skate. “You're room for error is a lot less and it wears on you.”

“If we've learned anything from last year, you lose two it's tough to climb out of that,” Jay Beagle said. “Then this year first round, lose two, it's tough to climb out. It makes the series really hard. You always feel like you're chasing and no room for error.”

It did not cost them against Columbus as Washington was able to rattle off four straight wins to advance to the second round. Overcoming a two-game hole against the two-time defending Stanley Cup Champions, however, is a taller task.

For only the second time in franchise history, the Capitals were able to overcome a 0-2 series deficit when they did it against the Blue Jackets. That means it doesn’t happen very often.

Chances are you won’t be able to overcome a deficit like that against Sidney Crosby and Co.

And that’s what makes Game 1 so important.

Washington is at home, opening a series against their arch rival, the Penguins will be without both Evgeni Malkin and Carl Hagelin and the game will be played with the memory of how a 0-2 hole cost the Caps the series last year.

To call it a must-win would perhaps be an overstatement. It is a best of seven after all. But it’s still not that far off.

“We've got to just make sure we're looking at game one, we're not looking ahead,” Beagle said. “We've got to go after them in this first game and really try and take it to them in our rink.”

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