Will Thursday be Tebow’s last hurrah?
Tim Tebow is safe. For now.
After surviving the Patriots’ mandatory roster cutdown to 75 Tuesday, Tebow remains on New England’s roster, at least until Saturday’s final cutdown to 53 players.
But if Tebow is worried that Thursday’s final preseason game against the New York Giants might be his last in the NFL, he isn’t publicly showing it.
Tebow’s roster spot with the New England Patriots appears in jeopardy based upon what has transpired the past two preseason games. He didn’t play last Thursday at Detroit following a 1-for-7 passing performance the previous week against Tampa Bay.
The Patriots were the only team known to have interest in signing Tebow this offseason following his April release by the New York Jets. Should he fail to stick in New England, Tebow might not get another shot elsewhere.
Tebow, though, told FOX Sports that he isn’t approaching the Patriots’ preseason finale Thursday vs. the New York Giants as make-or-break for his NFL career.
“It’s the same as any other game I’ve ever played in,” he said following practice Monday at Gillette Stadium. “Just prepare, get ready and go out and do the best you can with the opportunity you’re given.”
Tebow said he doesn’t know of the coaches’ plans for him against the Giants. But he almost surely will receive at least some playing time. Traditionally, the Patriots have barely, if at all, played starter Tom Brady in the preseason finale to limit his exposure to injury. The only other quarterback on the roster is Brady’s backup Ryan Mallett.
In 2012, Brady and Mallett were the only quarterbacks New England carried. Asked whether he was worried about the same scenario unfolding this season, Tebow said: “I learned very early on in my career at (the University of) Florida to worry about what I can control. The things I can’t control I’m not going to spend time worrying about.
“I can control my attitude, my effort and my focus every single day. Those are the things I’m going to worry about.”
When it comes to style of quarterbacking, Tebow can be considered the anti-Brady. Tebow is far more mobile, which is the strength of his game, dating back to when he became one of the most popular and successful players in NCAA history while starring for the Gators. However, Tebow was far less accurate than Brady in his first three NFL seasons with Denver (2010 and 2011) and the Jets (2012).
Mechanical flaws, difficulties reading defenses and uneven practice performances have kept Tebow from building on his 2011 season, when he led Denver into the second round of the playoffs. Such deficiencies are among the reasons New England coach Bill Belichick has tried Tebow at other offensive skill positions besides quarterback during preseason practices. Tebow also has special teams experience as a punt protector, stemming from his time with the Jets, which potentially increases his value to the Patriots.
Tebow, 26, said working alongside Brady in practice has helped improve his quarterbacking.
“I feel like every day I’m getting to be a little more comfortable getting to watch that guy,” he said, pointing to Brady sitting in front of his locker. “You learn a lot and the flow of the offense.
“It’s how he approaches it (and a) different leadership style. Watching his timing, rhythm and everything like that. He understands how to get it done.”
Tebow hopes for the chance to prove he shouldn’t be done in New England when teams are forced to trim their rosters Saturday.
“I love playing and competing,” he said. “Everybody in this locker room, we all love the game. That’s why we’re here. You just want to not focus on that but the preparation right now. That will take care of itself.”