Rex mum on injured running backs

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The Jets could be strapped for running backs when the team heads to Foxborough, Mass., for Sunday's showdown with Patriots. Bilal Powell, who dislocated his right shoulder last Sunday, was not present at Thursday's practice, and Joe McKnight (high ankle sprain) worked off to the side.

Jets coach Rex Ryan was asked if he had an idea if either would be available Sunday, but he wouldn't reveal anything in the cloak-and-dagger days before a game against a division rival.

"Yeah, I have a feeling on it," Ryan said, "but I'm not necessarily going to share it with you. Both of those guys won't practice today. We'll see how the week goes on, if they'll be available or not."

Ryan later answered that yes, backup quarterback Tim Tebow could be used as a running back in a pinch. Starter Shonn Greene, who had 161 rushing yards in a win over the Colts, will be the go-to back, and newcomer Jonathan Grimes could see time as a backup.

Ryan, humorously ruled out using Antonio Cromartie at the spot.

On the injury front, Powell, McKnight, safety Eric Smith (knee), DL Sione Po'uha (low back) and DT Kenrick Ellis (knee) did not practice. Those limited were LB Bart Scott (toe), TE Dustin Keller (hamstring), WR Stephen Hill (hamstring), LB Bryan Thomas (hamstring), S LaRon Landry (heel) and Nick Mangold (ankle.)

Those getting treatment but practicing fully were QB Mark Sanchez (lower back), OL Brandon Moore (hip), OL Matt Slauson (knee) and WR Jeremy Kerley (finger).

RUN OR PUNT: Ryan said using Tebow on punt protect and using the occasional fake has changed the way that opponents play them.

"People are using their base defense out there and playing defense," Ryan said. "Quite honestly, I don't blame them because we're shown I think we'll fake it backed up in our own territory."

WESTHOFF TO HALL? Ryan also noted that special teams coach Mike Westhoff, who plans to retire from coaching after this season, is worthy of the Hall of Fame.

"Really, if you were ranking them, I don't know who you're going to put ahead of him," Ryan said.