~ ~ Here are some notes from Wednesday's practice, which was attended by 810 fans in 97-degree heat :
Pro Bowl defensive tackle Geno Atkins didn't practice. He suited up, but the Bengals used rookie Devon Still and Nick Hayden in his spot. Atkins, who limped off the field in Tuesday's practice, said he expected to play in Friday's preseason opener.
Rookie third-round pick Mohamed Sanu, who is battling for the No. 2 wide receiver spot, had an added role. He played Tim Tebow on the scout-team offense. The Bengals open the preseason against the New York Jets on Friday.
Andy Dalton looked sharp in a two-minute drill, completing 4 of 5 passes, which included a 30-yard toss to Armon Binns. The only incompletion was a drop by Binns on a pass that sailed behind him.
Brandon Tate, who worked with the second-team offense Wednesday, didn't look good in dropping a long pass from Bruce Gradkowski. Tate then got yelled at by coaches after failing to field a punt and letting it bounce in-bounds.
Bengals kicker Mike Nugent went 4-for-5 at the end of practice. His only miss was wide left from 44 yards.
Tim Tebow will make his highly-anticipated debut with the New York Jets tonight when they take on the Cincinnati Bengals. The game will be nationally televised on the NFL Network.
Here are some thoughts of what to look for :
Why it's important : Tebow is new to the Jets and needs to solidify his role on the team. He must fit in, and it doesn't make things any easier that Tebow gets more media coverage than anyone on the team. Tebow will be the backup quarterback, Wildcat quarterback and punt protector on special teams this season. He may wear all three hats Friday night.
Playing time : Tebow could get as much as two quarters of work against the Bengals. Starter Mark Sanchez will play limited reps and probably won't play outside the first quarter. The second quarter, and potentially the third, will be Tebow's. He will be playing against mostly backups and needs to prove he can have success.
What's a good debut ?
A good preseason game for Tebow is all about throwing well. I don't care what Tebow does running the football. I already know he can run. Tebow needs to prove that his passing (and passing motion) has improved under pressure. Tebow did a lot of work this offseason to improve. He worked a lot on his passing, but is still inconsistent in practice. He has a chance to show his improvement in a game.
What's a bad debut ?
It will be bad news if Tebow struggles. He will not get much (or any) time against Cincinnati's first team. Therefore, Tebow is expected to do well against Cincinnatiís second-string players. If he doesnít, that will cast doubt. For better or for worse, all eyes will be on Tebow Friday night.
Obviously, the pregame headline is Tim Tebow's debut, but the preseason opener also will afford us a chance to evaluate unheralded players who have flashed in training camp.Some of those players include: WR Dexter Jackson, WR Raymond Webber, WR Royce Pollard, QB Matt Simms, NT Damon Harrison, S Antonio Allen, S D'Anton Lynn and LB Marcus Dowtin.I'm also curious to see TE Hayden Smith, the former rugby player trying to make it in the NFL. Imagine what he'll be feeling before kickoff.
Lineup changes :
As expected, RT Wayne Hunter (back) won't play. That opens the door for Austin Howard, a massive, run-blocking tackle who has impressed in camp. He'll probably see a lot of Bengals DE Carlos Dunlap.Others out for the Jets are NT Sione Pouha (forehead) and WR Santonio Holmes (ribs). They will be replaced by Kenrick Ellis and Chaz Schilens, respectively.
Scout's eye :
Preseason games always draw a lot of scouts from other teams. They have two primary purposes: They're evaluating "bubble" players who might become free in the coming weeks. If the scout works for a team on the Jets' schedule, the scout focuses on the team in general, noting information that could come in handy for their game. Scouts from the Steelers and Dolphins, the Jets' Week 2 and Week 3 opponents, respectively, are in attendance. Oddly, no one from the Bills, their opening-day opponent, is here.Defense in the house. Rex Ryan's famous dad, Buddy Ryan, is in the house. The elder Ryan, who leaves in nearby Kentucky, spent time on the field during the pregame warmups. He and Rex spent several minutes on the Jets' bench, talking about -- just a guess here -- defense.