Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tebow content to watch, learn

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Tebowmania, Tebow-palooza and Tebowing have not followed the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner to the Patriots.

Buried on the depth chart in all categories, including celebrity, behind starter Tom Brady, Tim Tebow bides his time on the sideline during most practices as the No. 3 quarterback.

"It's going well," Tebow said Wednesday. "Just trying to work hard every day, improve. Every time you get a rep, learn from it. When you don't, get mental reps. I'm watching the great one out there, so you've got to get a lot of good mental reps.

"I'm trying to do everything that the other guys are doing, and obviously, I'm learning as we go. But I'm feeling more comfortable every day."

These days, Tebow, who turned 26 Wednesday, talks as if he is studying the Patriots playbook as much as the good book.

Even the most devout Tebow fans were curious why New England, well-armed at quarterback with Brady and Ryan Mallett, would want to try to salvage the NFL career of the former University of Florida star, who saw little action while with the Jets in 2012 after two seasons in Denver.

Theories include coach Bill Belichick's close association with former Florida coach Urban Meyer and giving offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who drafted Tebow in the first round in 2010 while Broncos head coach, a chance of being proved right.

"I've loved the offense," said Tebow, who led the Broncos to the playoffs in 2011. "Being able to learn from a great quarterback, one of the best that ever played, being able to learn from Coach McDaniels and … everybody who has been in this offense, it's a pleasure for me.

"My mind-set is just getting better every day and enjoying the process; having a lot of fun doing it. I'm blessed to be out here."

So far, Belichick is resisting the Tim-tation to make Tebow anything other than a No. 3 quarterback.

He has, however put in a package of spread option plays to emphasize Tebow's strengths as a runner. Tebow time came early in last week's preseason game against the Eagles when Mallett sustained a head injury during the first half. Tebow responded by going 4-of-12 for 55 yards with four rushes for 31 yards.

Brady's knee injury Wednesday gave Tebow an opportunity to get more reps in practice. He responded with a few successful two-minute drives, including a strike to receiver Julian Edelman in the back of the end zone.

Belichick sees improvement in Tebow.

"I think the big thing is just the familiarity of the offense, the way we do things, the play-calling, the reads, the formations and in general all the things that we do," Belichick said. "The quarterback has got to have a good understanding of all that. And the more you do it, the more you get comfortable with it and the better you can execute it. I think that's no different than any quarterback or any young quarterback coming into a new system."

One thing is certain: Tebow will be ready for his next chance.

"Absolutely, you've got to be ready to go in this league, and you never know when your number is called," Tebow said. "You've got to get loose fast and get ready to go."

Rick Stroud can be reached at stroud @tampabay.com.

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