CORTLAND, N.Y. -- The Mark Sanchez-Tim Tebow quarterback drama made its debut Saturday night, but the big story in the New York Jets' intrasquad scrimmage was wide receiver Santonio Holmes, who suffered a rib injury.
Coach Rex Ryan created a mini-panic when he said the Jets' top playmaker "might have a broken rib," but the team announced later that an X-ray was negative. Holmes is listed as a day to day.
Only an hour earlier, Ryan seemed resigned to a serious injury, telling reporters, "I don't know if Santonio did break a rib or not, but the fact that it's sticking out ... is probably an indicator."
Holmes was drilled from behind by cornerback Antonio Cromartie, never known as a big hitter, on a third-down reception. He went to the bench, received immediate attention from the trainers and walked slowly to the locker room.
"He's a tough guy, but I don't think he's going to be running around tomorrow or the next day," said Ryan, who can't afford a serious injury to his already thin receiving corps.
At least the Jets can feel good about their starting quarterback.
In Round 1 of the league's most compelling quarterback situation, Sanchez outplayed Tebow before an announced crowd of 9,402 on a sweltering night.
Sanchez, missing three starting offensive linemen, completed 11 of 16 passes for 82 yards and a touchdown -- an eight-yarder to running back Bilal Powell. Sanchez orchestrated a 13-play, 60-yard touchdown drive, demonstrating a firm grasp of Tony Sparano's offense.
"(It's) just like your first scrimmage," Sanchez said. "There were ups and downs."
The highlight for Tebow was when he walked on the field. He received a huge ovation, but he didn't generate much excitement after that. Playing exclusively with the second-team offense, he went 0 for 3 -- two long incompletions and a drop. He missed a big-play opportunity by throwing late on a deep ball to tight end Jeff Cumberland.
Tebow led the offense to only one first down in four possessions.
It was sloppy. There were a couple of hiccups between Tebow and converted center Caleb Schlauderaff, a fumbled exchange and a high shotgun snap. Tebow ran once on a designed play, finishing with three rushes for 14 yards.
Tebow wasn't "live," meaning he was off-limits to tacklers -- and he called that "a little bit frustrating" because it restricted his game.
"It makes it hard because you can't do too much in something like this," said Tebow, adding that he was generally pleased with his performance.
Sanchez said of Tebow, "If it wasn't two-hand touch, he'd still be running."
The Jets didn't show any of their vaunted Wildcat package, but they used a fake punt with Tebow as the personal protector. He received a direct snap and completed a pass to Eric Smith.
There's no quarterback controversy.
Sanchez and Holmes, who famously feuded at the end of last season, hooked up three times for 22 yards. Holmes wasn't expected to play -- he missed a few days of practice with general body soreness -- but he decided to give it a shot.
The Jets are so thin at receiver that they're planning to use Cromartie in a cameo role this season -- and that was before Holmes went down. Cromartie sparked a controversy when he told ESPN that he'd be the second-best receiver on the team, prompting Schilens to fire back. Ryan defused the war of words by addressing the matter in a team meeting.
An extended absence for Holmes would disrupt the Jets' offensive chemistry as they attempt to learn Tony Sparano's system.
"You'd love to have your No. 1 guy out there, your big gun out there," Ryan said."(Holmes) looked good today. Obviously, you saw him and Sanchez connect several times."
After the season, the Jets decided not to re-sign Plaxico Burress, who started every game last season. He remains a free agent. They were mildly interested in former Jet Braylon Edwards, but he signed last week with the Seattle Seahawks.
"Obviously, there's a quarterback controversy with Matt Simms," Ryan joked. "Was it Matt Simms or Phil Simms? He looked pretty darn impressive."