Sunday notes and observations on the Jets and the NFL:
1. TEBOW TIME: From the moment he arrived, Tim Tebow has been on his best PC behavior, avoiding direct answers to questions from headline-seeking media types (myself included) about wanting/competing for Mark Sanchez's job. But, on Thursday, he let down his guard. It came in response to an innocent question (by me) about how he competes at everything, even wind sprints in practice. (This is what teammates have said about him.) "I don't like losing," Tebow said. "Pretty much, every time I'm competing, I'll pretty much do whatever it takes to win. I'm pretty competitive." Remember that next time he sidesteps a query about coveting Sanchez's job.
2. PROTECT THE PROTECTOR: The Jets were awfully eager Thursday to share with the world their plans to use Tebow as the personal protector on the punt team -- a classic case of over-selling to give opponents something to think about. I wouldn't be surprised if he makes only an occasional appearance in that role. What's the point? Yeah, he provides the threat of a trick play, but does that wrinkle outweigh the risk of injury? No. Rex Ryan compared Tebow to Brad Smith in that role, but here's the difference: Smith wasn't a QB, Tebow is the No. 2 QB. Tebow already will be exposed to injury as a Wildcat QB; it doesn't make sense to increase his exposure on special teams.
3. SHOW HIM THE MONEY: No news to report on the Dustin Keller contract front, according to a league source. If the Jets want to lock up their talented tight end for the long term, they have a funny way of showing it -- silence. Can you hear the crickets? Keller is due to make $3 million in the final year of his rookie contract. It's possible they will let him play out the deal and slap him with the franchise tag if they can't reach an agreement before he hits the market. The franchise tender for tight ends has dropped in recent years; it was a reasonable $5.446 million in 2012. That could explain the Jets' glacial approach.
4. ELLIS UPDATE: Kenrick Ellis' attorney told The Daily Press of Hampton, Va., he will ask the judge to split the nose tackle's jail sentence, which would allow him to be in Cortland, N.Y., for the start of training camp. Ellis is due to report to jail on June 15, the day after the mandatory minicamp wraps up. With good behavior, he'll be out in 45 days, but that would cost him the first four days of training camp. The attorney said he'd like to postpone some time until after the season. Another take on Ellis: His legal situation has overshadowed his slow start on the field. The Jets rated him as the 36th-best player in the 2011 draft, eventually picking him in the third round, but he hasn't come close to validating that rating.
5. JUST BLITZ, BABY: When the phrase "lost our identity" is mentioned, it usually refers to the 2011 offense and how it strayed from its Ground & Pound mentality. But it also applies to the defense, which became more conservative last season under DC Mike Pettine. In 2009 and 2010, with Ryan calling the plays, they were one of the most prolific blitzing teams in the league. In 2012, they dropped to the middle of the pack, statistically. Ryan said last week, "Blitzing on defense. That's who we are." And maybe it's part of the reason why Ryan has made an emphasis to get more involved in the defense.
6. BO'S PLACE: Kudos to NT Sione Pouha, who donated $50,000 to his alma mater, Utah, as part of the football program's "Invest in Excellent" campaign. Their new locker room, scheduled to open in 2013, will bear Pouha's name.
7. A PAD, PAD, PAD, PAD WORLD: The league's decision to make knee and thigh pads mandatory in 2013 smacks of a PR move, a way of showing the players they're really concerned with safety issues. No one is suggesting they aren't, but well-protected thighs aren't going to solve the real problem -- the concussion/brain-trauma scourge. While we're on the subject, former Jets coach/ESPN analyst Herm Edwards said the only player he coached that always wore every type of padding available to players was RB Curtis Martin, a Hall of Famer.
8. PLAX RETURN? With Hakeen Nicks (broken foot) down, the Giants need a veteran wide receiver. Plaxico Burress needs a job. What about a Giants-Burress reunion? Sorry, can't see that happening unless Eli Manning lobbies for it -- and there's a better chance of spotting Tebow in SCORES than Manning stepping up for Plax.
9. JUST SAY 'YES': Will somebody please say "yes" to HBO's "Hard Knocks"? It would be a shame if the reality show can't find a team for this summer. It's a terrific, behind-the-scenes look at training camp, but the show is getting rejected more than the class nerd at a high-school dance. The Seahawks were the latest to take a pass. At least six others have spurned the show.
10. JUST SAYING: Advice to the Saints: Pay Drew Brees. You're nothing without him.