JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Tim Tebow caught touchdown passes from Trevor Lawrence and Gardner Minshew on Thursday, showing signs that reviving his NFL career as a tight end is far from a publicity stunt or personal favor.
Tebow essentially looked the part on a sunbaked afternoon that capped his first week of organized team activities with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
With team owner Shad Khan in attendance along with a media throng eager to see how the 33-year-old Tebow was adjusting to his new position, the 2007 Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback didn’t drop a pass and even made a couple of plays that surely got more attention than they deserved.
Tebow is hardly a polished route-runner and doesn’t appear to be a down-the-field threat. But anyone who thought he would embarrass himself by changing positions nine years after last playing a meaningful snap in the league probably would have been surprised to see him hold his own in a No. 85 jersey.
“It’s 1 in 90 trying to make the team,” Jaguars coach Urban Meyer said. “He has improved. It’s all new for him. … That position’s trending upward; they’re doing a nice job.”
Meyer declined to provide much insight into how he plans to potentially use Tebow. There has been speculation that Tebow could be a goal-line and short-yardage quarterback or even line up in the backfield alongside Lawrence.
“I think it’s one step at a time and see what happens,” Meyer said. “Before you start having those conversations, you’ve got to feel where he’s at on the depth chart, etc. Obviously, it’s only been a couple of days. We have not had that conversation as an offensive staff yet.”
For now, tight ends coach Tyler Bowen — whose nickname, coincidentally, is “T-Bow” — is trying to get the much more popular Tebow comfortable at his new position. Bowen urged Tebow for “a little more tempo off the ball” early in the two-hour workout.
Later, Bowen jokingly asked an intern “you need the trainers” after the equipment guy was tasked with trying to block Tebow using a dummy pad.
Tebow had his most success in seven-on-seven drills near the goal line, catching two short passes for scores.
“He’s just another guy,” Jaguars safety Rayshawn Jenkins said. “I met him briefly in the locker room, so a really good guy from what I can tell. But I don’t look at it as ‘Tebow’ or anybody who’s just right there. I just look at it (as) what do I need to do this play? What are my keys? What am I looking at? It doesn’t matter what number the jersey is or whoever’s right there in front of me.”
Tebow signed a one-year, $920,000 deal with Jacksonville last week, getting the veteran minimum for a player with his experience. He received no signing bonus or guaranteed money. He’s returning to the NFL after five years (2016-20) in the New York Mets’ organization and he’s reuniting with Meyer, his college coach, for the first time since his senior year in 2009.
His comeback is unprecedented because of his age, his new position and the fact that he last played in a regular-season game in 2012, with the New York Jets.
“We don’t get caught up in any of that,” Jenkins said. “You can’t get star struck around here. It’s the business. I played with numerous superstars. I can name a list full, but we’re all friends at the end of the day, we’re all co-workers at the end of the day.”
Tebow was the main attraction Thursday, and that may have been a good thing for Lawrence. The No. 1 overall pick had four overthrows and two passes broken up in goal-line drills.
“That’s obviously a very hard area of the field,” Meyer said. “The field changes, especially against NFL talent all over the field and defense had the upper hand today. It wasn’t just him. … We all struggled, not just him, offensively.”
Tebow was on the receiving end of one of Lawrence’s few highlights, looking like, well, a 255-pound tight end with good hands.
Several NFL teams suggested Tebow make the position change years ago, but he declined.
He finally switched after retiring from baseball in February. He worked out for the Jaguars the following week, the first of two exploratory sessions that came to light hours before the start of the NFL draft on April 29.
Meyer raved about Tebow’s workouts, saying assistants were surprised to see him in such great shape. Ultimately, Tebow’s ability to pick up a new position — a number of college QBs have made the transition look seamless — will determine whether he makes the team.
“I’m kind of mad because I was the oldest guy on the team,” said 31-year-old receiver Marvin Jones. “Now, he has me by two years, so I have to talk to him about that. But it’s been great. Obviously, everybody knows the type of worker that he is and it’s no different.
“He came in here and fit right in, just working and learning and stuff like that. In the back, when he’s not in, he’s looking at the plays and running extra and doing what he needs to do to get this new position going. So, it’s been good. It’s been good to have him here most definitely.”