Tim Tebow has not played for an extended stretch on the football field for more than a year and a half, and it showed in his debut with the New England Patriots on Friday.
Taking over in the absence of the injured Ryan Malett, the third-string Tebow played the entire second half but completed only 4 of his 12 passes for 55 yards. Tebow added another 31 yards rushing on four carries, leading the Patriots to a touchdown on the team’s first possession of the second half.
It was the longest Tebow saw the field since the 2011 season, when he led the Denver Broncos to the playoffs and a surprise win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Wild Card round. Tim Tebow’s run came to an end the following week when the Broncos were blown out by the Patriots, and that offseason he was traded to the New York Jets.
For Tebow, 2012 was something of a lost season as the Jets failed to get him on the field, and Tebow struggled to take advantage of the few opportunities he was given. The team ended up employing him as punt protector and in some offensive packages, but rarely let him throw the ball and did not allow Tebow to play entire drives.
It appeared Tebow was on his way out of the league when Bill Belichick and the Patriots gave him a chance this offseason. Though there had been speculation that Tebow could convert to a tight end or H-back — especially given New England’s problems at tight end with Rob Gronkowski hurt and Aaron Hernandez in jail awaiting murder charges — the team has insisted Tebow will play quarterback this year.
Though it may be difficult for Tim Tebow to see playing time behind both Tom Brady and highly regarded backup Ryan Mallett, Bill Belichick has praised Tebow’s intelligence and work ethic, indicating that the team will find a place for him.