Tim Tebow said Friday the murder case involving Aaron Hernandez is "heartbreaking and sad" and he’s praying for all the families involved.
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The Patriots third-string quarterback spoke briefly about his former teammate in college at Florida and in the NFL with New England after the first practice of training camp.
"It’s heartbreaking and sad and all my thoughts and prayers go out to all the families that were involved," Tebow said.
He declined to answer the other two questions he was asked about Hernandez — whether he was shocked and if he had any contact with Hernandez since the shooting death of Boston semi-professional football player Odin Lloyd on June 17.
"I understand why you have to ask all the questions. That’s part of doing your job," Tebow said, "and part of mine is listening to instruction and we’ve been told not to talk about it."
Tebow and Hernandez, college teammates for three years, were reunited after the free-agent quarterback signed with the Patriots on June 11. They took part in the two days of practice during minicamp on June 11 and 12.
The Patriots cut Hernandez on June 26 after he was arrested and before he was charged that afternoon. That sparked speculation that the Patriots might try the 6-foot-3, 245-pound Tebow at tight end.
On Friday, he caught the only pass thrown to him in a brief screen-passing drill, alternating with others. But he lined up only at quarterback during 11-on-11 drills.
Is he willing to play tight end?
"I’m going to do what coach asks me to do," said Tebow, who has a non-guaranteed, two-year contract and is trying to make the team.
Typically, coach Bill Belichick was tight-lipped about what that would be.
"I think that we’ll use Tim wherever we feel like he’s best for the team," he said, a comment he makes about many players, "and I know that’s what he’s committed to doing as well, whatever that is."
Tebow wore the red quarterback’s jersey during the rainy practice.
"I’m just doing what I’m asked," he said, "but so far I’ve been strictly in the quarterback room" during positional meetings.
Playing mostly against backup defenders on Friday, Tebow threw two interceptions, one to safety Nate Ebner on an overthrow.
"I felt pretty good out there," Tebow said. "I felt like I made some good decisions. I’ve got to keep improving every single day. We’ll go watch the film and we’ll get better from it, but I felt good about the practice."
The spotlight on Tebow since he joined the Patriots has been much dimmer than it was last season with the New York Jets where the inconsistent play of starting quarterback Mark Sanchez sparked calls for Tebow to replace him.
But the Patriots have Tom Brady at quarterback. They also have Belichick, who instructs his players to limit their public comments, an extreme change from the approach of Jets coach Rex Ryan.
"It’s nice to be advised on things and (to) feel like (I) have it structured," Tebow said. "I’m going to do what they ask me to do and I feel like it goes with everybody on the team. I feel like we’re buying into what they’re asking us to do."