Speculation was stirring when Tebow lined up in an offensive drill during training camp and did open-field drills against Patriot defenders with the ball in his hands. However, as is the Patriot Way, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels defused the drama rather quickly.
Here's what McDaniels had to say about Tebow's participation in the drill normally reserved for skill-position players, as reported by Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald:
Anybody that is a potential runner that can actually do something with the ball in his hands, something good, we always put them (in the drill). I think (former Patriots quarterbacks) Matt Cassel and (Doug) Flutie and some of those other guys that I’ve had a chance to coach, I think we did the same types of things with them.
Certainly we know Tim has a skill set that some of these other guys don’t possess in terms of his ability to run with it, or scramble with it when he has it in his hands. He’s just practicing his open-field running. I know the defensive guys enjoy the challenge of trying to get him to the ground. I think it’s good for everybody and a normal procedure that we go through in training camp.
It's not as if Cassel or Flutie ever lined up at receiver, running back or tight end. Granted, they weren't nearly as big as Tebow, but this seems more like a smokescreen than anything else.
The Patriots signed Tebow to play quarterback, and the man who drafted him in the first round in 2010 with the Denver Broncos, McDaniels, is telling the media not to read into what Tebow does in drills even a little bit.
Perhaps the notably creative McDaniels is attempting to shield some of the tactics and plans he might have up his sleeve for Tebow this season in the form of gadget plays.
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Then again, this is the man who had a plan for Tebow to succeed as a starting quarterback in the NFL. Whether it was a totally misguided leap of faith to draft the former Florida star in the first round remains to be seen, though.
By playing Tebow more at other positions and limiting the already scarce reps he can take at the only position he's ever known on the gridiron, his development is being stymied.
It's in McDaniels' control—along with head coach Bill Belichick—to coach up Tebow as much as possible at quarterback and justify the Round 1 gamble from his time in Denver.
It's a matter of mechanics, which Chris Weinke has reportedly helped along (h/t USA Today), and the benefit of learning behind the legendary Tom Brady can't be emphasized enough from the standpoint of understanding the game.
The best part of Tebow's passing game is his deep ball, which was on display in Patriots practice recently, per ESPNBoston.com's Mike Reiss:
Near end of practice, Tim Tebow connects with WR Kenbrell Thompkins on long TD down the left side. Nice long ball.— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) July 28, 2013
Hope still exists for Tebow at the position he continually insists on playing.
Now that he's in an environment where he can truly be the project QB he was expected to be when drafted, any tricky packages the Patriots have for Tebow, at least this season, should be minimal while he continues honing his skills as a quarterback.
McDaniels is essentially confirming that as the plan by dismissing any involvement Tebow has in skill-position drills.