FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Tom Brady walks over to a rookie receiver and,
motioning emphatically with his arms, instructs the youngster on some
intricacies of the offense.
Then Brady chats with his blockers, showing them some footwork he is
using in the pocket they form for him. He takes a running back aside,
holds out the football and shows him the exact position it will be in
for a handoff.
Tim Tebow watches all of these moments — when he's not off on another
field working with the scrubs and the hopefuls. Or he's practicing with
the special teams as a punt protector.
The Tom and Tim Show really has no co-star. It's all about Brady with
the New England Patriots, just as it has been for a dozen years. Tebow
isn't even a sideshow. He's just a guy trying to prove he belongs in
the NFL — as a third-string quarterback.
"Every day is a great learning opportunity," Tebow says. "Getting a
chance to watch how he operates the offense, the speed in which he does
things, the knowledge which he has in this offense and being in it for
over a decade, and just a lot of little things about getting people
lined up and just the pace in which he plays, very fast, a very quick
pace. It's a great learning opportunity for me."
What it's not is a competition, in any way, shape or form. Indeed,
Tebow almost certainly isn't in the running for Ryan Mallette's backup
job behind Brady.
Doesn't matter how much the fans chant Tebow's name at practices, which
they incessantly do. Or how many autographs he signs for his legion of
followers, which he loyally does. Or how many extra passes he throws on
his own when the training sessions end. This isn't Jets Redux, Tebow
vs. Mark Sanchez.
So Tebow gets a few minutes here and there with Brady during practices
and they share a few words about formations and release points. More
often, Brady is in discussions with an almost entirely new group of
receivers, from that rookie, second-round pick Aaron Dobson, to veteran
Danny Amendola, a newcomer to New England who the Patriots hope
emulates Wes Welker as a target from the slot.
Brady generally spends more time talking with Mallette, and they are
together for a lot more drills than Brady and Tebow share. When Tebow
is included, it's usually because all three QBs are together.
Brady has no reason to feel threatened by Tebow — or any other
quarterback, for that matter — and has a comfort level with the 2007
Heisman Trophy winner that only can help Tebow make the squad.
"I've really enjoyed it, he's fun to be around," Brady says, whose
words don't ring hollow the way that similar comments did coming from
Sanchez and the Jets in 2012, a lost season for Tebow and that team.
"He's had a lot of experience and a lot of productivity, so we have
good conversation. He loves playing football and those are usually the
type of guys that do well.
"He's been on a few different teams. He's run some different style
offenses. He's done a good job. He's come in here and Josh (McDaniels)
has had some familiarity with him, coaching him in Denver. He's come in
and just tried to do the best that he can do."
McDaniels was the head coach in Denver when he drafted Tebow in the
first round in 2010. He was long gone from that job when Tebow helped
the Broncos turn around their 2011 season, make the playoffs, then beat
Pittsburgh in a wild-card game — on Tebow's touchdown pass in overtime.
Having McDaniels in New England as offensive coordinator provides Tebow
with a comfort zone. When Tebow spent part of a night-time practice on
special teams, McDaniels suggested it was a chance for Tebow "just to
go out there and take advantage of the opportunities that he has." Then
he added, "He's putting in a lot of time and effort into trying to
improve his individual skill set to play the position of quarterback in
That's where Brady has been something of a mentor, albeit in meetings
and film sessions more so than on the field. Because Brady recognizes
Tebow is no threat to him, he can be totally accommodating with words
"I think for the most part it could be a read here and there, but it's
also just watching him, seeing how he handles himself, how he operates
this offense and how he runs it. There's a lot that I can pick up from
him," Tebow says.
Still, they have little in common, which is magnified on the field.
Tebow is a left-hander, Brady a righty. Those southpaw tosses tend to
sail in many directions, although Tebow has thrown more pinpoint passes
this preseason than he did in his entire stay with the Jets.
Brady's practice throws nearly always are on the money.
Although Tebow was a mammoth success in college ball, he's just trying
to hang on in the NFL in his fourth pro season. Brady won his second of
three Super Bowl rings in his fourth NFL season.
There is one link that is obvious to everyone — teammates, coaches,
"He works hard at everything he does," Brady says of Tebow. "He has a
very professional approach and wants to improve."
Adds Tebow: "He's someone that's great to be around because he's been
one of the best for a long time, and he's still doing extra. He's still
working hard. He still has that edge and that's awesome to be able to
Tebow says he and Brady spent plenty of time together in meetings and
talk about non-football matters, too. McDaniels is certain that Tebow
is filling those conversations with questions.
"I think Tim probably picks everybody's brain," McDaniels said. "I'm
not sure exactly the volume of questions that he asks per day, but I'm
sure Tom probably puts a strict limit on that."