FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Tim Tebow isn't a starter, but he's being treated like one.
The New York Jets' backup quarterback will get the night off, along with the starters, in the final preseason game Thursday against the Eagles in Philadelphia, coach Rex Ryan announced Friday.
Ryan never plays his starters in the last preseason game. This year, the Jets have only three days' rest between Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers and the game against the Eagles, making it imperative to give proper rest before the Sept. 9 season opener.
Tebow is slated to play the fourth quarter against the Panthers, meaning his body of work in the preseason will end up being about 4½ quarters. So far, he has played 10 possessions totaling 51 plays. He has led the offense on two of its three scoring drives -- a pair of field goals.
Tebow has completed only 9 of 22 passes for 96 yards, with one interception. He's been sacked four times. He also has rushed six times for 39 yards, second-most on the team.
Starting quarterback Mark Sanchez will play the first three quarters against the Panthers, hoping to jump-start an offense that has no touchdowns in two games this preseason.
"No, it's not difficult," Tebow said about his smaller role. "You just know your role and you try to do it the best you can. When you get opportunities, you make the most of them."
The Jets have big plans for Tebow, who will be used in a Wildcat-like package. They haven't run any Wildcat plays in the preseason, hoping to keep their first opponent -- the Buffalo Bills -- off balance. Ryan said they won't use any Wildcat on Sunday night, either.
"It's fine," Tebow said, insisting he's not concerned that he hasn't had the chance to perform his role in an actual game. "We had a few live reps in practice, but I've ran that stuff before, so I've had reps in my life at it."
The Jets haven't revealed any details about how they plan to deploy Tebow in the Wildcat, but it probably will be similar to the read-option scheme he used with the Denver Broncos. There also will be times when he's in the game and Sanchez isn't, which could be interesting.
"For most of this training camp, OTA's, minicamp, I've been just a regular quarterback," he said. "I've been training as a quarterback ... There will be chances of running, chances (for) options, reads and things like that, but you're still a quarterback. You still have to read the defense, make reads and make checks. ... That's what I'm trying to do back there, so you're still being a quarterback even though people might look at it differently."