August 21, 2013

Tebow doesn't draw a crowd

The media frenzy is gone, and the backup QB's slow start has him fighting for a roster spot.

By HOWARD ULMAN/The Associated Press

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - Tim Tebow walked off the practice field with no reporters blocking his path to the locker room. Finally, a few strolled up for a 90-second interview, then moved on to longer chats with other Patriots.

Tim Tebow
click image to enlarge

Tim Tebow hasn’t done much to counter critics who say he can’t throw well. But his running ability and work ethic may earn him a spot.

The Associated Press

PRESEASON GAME 3

WHO: New England Patriots (2-0) at Detroit Lions (1-1)

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Thursday

WHERE: Ford Field

TELEVISION: Channel 8

The media circus that surrounded him last season is gone.

His uncertain future remains.

Ten weeks into what could be his last shot at staying in the NFL, Tebow seems to be on the roster bubble. He is simply trying to make the team now, but has played poorly in two exhibition games.

How poorly?

His passer rating was 0.0 -- that's zero-point-zero -- in New England's 25-21 win over Tampa Bay last Friday night.

"You would definitely want to do better in some areas," said Tebow, the only quarterback the Patriots used in the second half against the Buccaneers. "Also, you have different things happen that you just try to handle the best way you can."

He completed just one of seven passes for a loss of one yard, and had one interception on a badly overthrown pass. He was sacked twice on his first nine plays. But the lefty who has trouble reading defenses and zipping passes did what he does best, running six times for 30 yards.

A week earlier, in his debut, he was a bit better -- 4 for 12 for 55 yards with four runs for 31 yards in a 31-22 win over the Philadelphia Eagles.

Numbers may not lie, but Coach Bill Belichick sees a larger truth. He watches Tebow at every practice, sees how diligently he studies and how dedicated he is in the weight room.

And he sees some positive steps from the player traded by the Denver Broncos and cut by the New York Jets in a span of 13 months.

"Yeah, definitely," Belichick said. "I think if you look at the entire week last week, that it will look different than the game did."

Tebow could get another chance in the third preseason game on Thursday night against the Lions in Detroit. That'll be five days before the mandatory roster cut to 75 players. The Patriots finish the exhibition schedule Aug. 29 against the New York Giants. The final cut to 53 comes two days later.

Tebow, as expected, says he's not thinking about his prospects of sticking around. Grasping the New England offense is difficult enough.

"I just focus one day at a time," he says, "improving every single practice."

It's not even an issue?

"Just getting ready for the practice," he says with a smile.

Belichick has been typically reticent. The Patriots signed Tebow for a reason, of course, and though New England often carries just two quarterbacks, the veteran coach is unfazed by preseason results.

Asked last week if he plans to keep Tebow, if healthy, on the 53-man roster, Belichick said, "That's not anything that we're ready to talk about right now. A lot of competition out there. We'll see how it all plays out."

There are some factors in Tebow's favor.

He could be used as a punt protector, forcing opponents to play for a fake on a direct snap. He could line up as a receiver, pose as a decoy, or give Tom Brady a target for a quick pass to the sideline that he can run with. He's played only quarterback in training camp drills, all open to the media, but could be used elsewhere now that the practices are open for just a short time period.

(Continued on page 2)

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