Tim Tebow is a bigger player now than ever before. And, it’s not just from being in the New York spotlight.
The New York Jets backup quarterback revealed Wednesday after the second day of minicamp that he weighs a rock-solid 249 pounds — about 7 to 9 pounds heavier than last season with Denver — and the team would like him to be at 250 to start the season.
”I feel that I’m just training hard,” said Tebow, voted by teammates as the second-strongest offensive player behind only tight end Dustin Keller. ”I’m trying to be in shape, be strong enough to do anything, but also fast enough to run around a little bit as well.”
The Jets plan to use Tebow in various roles, including in the wildcat-style offense and on special teams as the punt protector. He might also potentially get a few carries out of the backfield, and running with the ball is something Tebow showed the Jets up close that he’s effective at during his 95-yard winning drive last season while with the Broncos.
He will mainly serve as the backup to Mark Sanchez, which the Jets have repeatedly insisted since acquiring Tebow in March.
”We were the only people who never had a problem with it, it seemed like,” coach Rex Ryan said. ”We look at it as we’re adding a good football player, which we did. Is he behind Sanchez on the depth chart? Yes. Just like every team has a guy behind their starting quarterback, but he brings so much more to the table.”
Ryan said Tuesday that Tebow would take snaps only with the second-team offense during training camp, but then said Wednesday that ”there may be times” that he could play with the first-stringers, ”but right now, he’ll be with the 2’s.”
Realizing that Ryan’s comments could potentially create a stir, a team spokesman tried to clarify, saying that the coach meant Tebow might play with the first-teamers only in wildcat-style situations and not in the conventional offense. But, Tebow then ended up taking two snaps with the first-team offense near the end of practice.
So, was there any special significance to that?
”No, I don’t think so,” Tebow said with a laugh, adding that offensive coordinator Tony Sparano ”does it every now and then, kind of throws you in there.”
Tebow won’t push to get time with the first-team offense for experience, though, saying he’s looking on the bright side.
”If you do a good job with the group you’re with, you should do even a better job with the 1’s,” he said.
During the first two days of minicamp, Sanchez has outperformed Tebow — as expected. His passes have appeared to be more on target, and he threw with some nice zip on Wednesday, in particular.
”I feel the ball jumping off my hand,” Sanchez said.
The fourth-year quarterback has also packed on some muscle to his frame, weighing 230 pounds — 5 more than last season. Sparano likes how much improvement Sanchez has made with his lower-body strength this offseason.
”It’s important to me not just to impress Rex, but really compete — against myself, against the outcome of last season, against any kind of negative feelings we had moving on from last year,” Sanchez said. ”And understand why we didn’t play as well as we did, how can we fix it? And now is my chance to do it. I just wanted to make sure I was prepared and ready to handle the season.”