Tim Tebow leaves the field after completing 1 of 7 passes for minus-1 yard against Tampa Bay in the Patriots' second preseason game.
(Photo: Stew Milne, USA TODAY Sports)
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- It has come to this for Tim Tebow: The former Heisman Trophy winner and first-round pick already has lived up to what few expectations the New England Patriots had for him since signing him as a free agent in June.
Tebow is right where he is supposed to be - third on the depth chart and fighting to make the final roster. It's almost comforting, especially after the tumult Tebow endured in one season with the New York Jets.
"He's in a good spot. He's in a good place for him," Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells told USA TODAY Sports. "He has a great coach in Bill Belichick and he has the benefit of Bill having done things like this in the past.
"I think (Tebow) has some attributes that are difficult to see, and I respect those attributes. He's accomplished a great deal in his football career. He really has. But he has to pass the ball better."
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Ah, yes, the accuracy problem.
While his two exhibition games have been filled with some wild passes, Tebow has also shown signs of the combination of abilities that lifted him to starting for the Denver Broncos two years ago. As he looks to secure his place with the Patriots Thursday night when they play the Lions in Detroit, Tebow continues to block out the noise.
"I worry about what I can control, not listening to outside influences," Tebow said. "It's my attitude and my effort and getting better every day and just staying focused."
In two preaseason games, Tebow has completed 5 of 19 passes for 54 yards, with one interception - horrible numbers for a quarterback by any standard. He played most of the second half Friday against Tampa Bay and completed 1 of 7 passes for minus-1 yard. But his ability to scramble is still there and he has run 10 times for 61 yards in two games.
That's good enough that the Patriots aren't talking about cutting Tebow just yet. Teams must trim their roster to 75 by Tuesday and to 53 by Aug. 31.
The Patriots have typically kept two quarterbacks, which in this case would be Tom Brady and Ryan Mallett, although Tebow is unlike most backups in that he can play special teams and fill other roles.
"All players have different skill sets and some guys do some things better than others. You have to look at the total package and what they're able to do in all areas of the game," coach Bill Belichick said when asked about Tebow. "I don't think there's one specific style you have to have or don't have to have. In the end, it's about production and being able to do enough things to be successful."
Although expectations for Tebow in the NFL have never been high, the 26-year-old did lead the Broncos to the playoffs and a victory against Pittsburgh two seasons ago. From there, he has found it hard to get on the field, let alone find a home, with a awkward turn with the Jets that resulted in him getting cut in April.
It seemed his NFL career was in jeopardy before the Patriots threw him a line with a two-year contract in June. Third string to Brady was better than nothing, and there was even speculation Tebow he would be something other than a quarterback, especially with the loss of tight end Aaron Hernandez, who was cut after being arrested and ultimately charged with murder, and Rob Gronkowski, whose immediate future is uncertain after forearm and back surgeries.
"The most humorous thing in all of the conversation about Tebow is, 'Well, just move him to another position,'" Parcells said. "Like that's some cinch, like just because you put him in there at tight end, he'll be a tight end like Mark Bavaro. C'mon."