NFL: Broncos teach Tebow to be more of a pocket passer
By PAT GRAHAM
AP Sports Writer
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — For the time being, Tim Tebow will be less improv artist and more pocket passer.
The faster the Denver Broncos rookie quarterback learns the system, though, the quicker those restraints may come off.
Tebow got off on the right foot during the Broncos' rookie minicamp this weekend, impressing his new coach, Josh McDaniels, with his motivation to improve.
Then again, that's never been the issue.
The knock on Tebow has centered around his throwing mechanics and footwork, precisely why McDaniels is taking a keen interest in Tebow this spring, a work-in-progress McDaniels selected with the 25th pick in last week's draft.
"He's what we thought he was," McDaniels said Saturday. "First of all, he's a rookie. He's made his share of mistakes out here. But his work ethic is what we thought it was."
Tebow may feel like every camera the Broncos possess is positioned to capture his every throw. He may feel that McDaniels is constantly hovering nearby, closely observing his every move.
That's not entirely true. Not every camera the team owns is trained on him.
"Really, every player, it doesn't matter what drill you're looking at, when you're out there, is getting filmed," McDaniels said. "It's just the quarterback drills are better to see from the actual ground point of view."
While with the Florida Gators, Tebow ran a spread offense, free to read what the defense was giving him and react accordingly.
With Denver, he will be groomed primarily as a pocket passer, just like Kyle Orton, Brady Quinn and Tom Brandstater, all of whom may be ahead of him on the depth chart.
"He will function from the pocket," McDaniels explained. "If he can do something out of the pocket, and he deserves to be on the field, that's the biggest thing, then maybe that would warrant us doing other things. But he's going to get trained the exact same way the other guys are going to get trained."
McDaniels insisted he's not trying to turn Tebow into a cookie-cutter quarterback, another version of someone else.
He wants to allow Tebow to be himself.
"To me, there's not a carbon copy that's being sold around the NFL and saying, 'OK, that's our guy,"' McDaniels said. "I don't think we're looking to try to make anyone anybody else. Honestly, that's not what we're trying to do. We're just trying to get good football players that can help our team. If he rushes for two touchdowns on a Sunday at some point in his career, great, that's super."
In two days of work, McDaniels got to see a small glimmer of what Tebow had to offer. Asked about Tebow's arm strength and McDaniels just grinned, saying, "He's got good arm strength."
The Heisman Trophy winner and two-time national champion isn't your prototypical NFL quarterback, one of the reasons why a few eyebrows were raised on draft day when Denver selected him over more polished products like Colt McCoy and Jimmy Clausen.
Not that McDaniels buys into that theory.
"(Sam) Bradford is totally different than Colt McCoy, who's totally different than Jimmy Clausen and all three of them are totally different than Tim Tebow," McDaniels said.
"Quarterback is a position where you want a guy that is tough and smart, a great leader, has those football intangibles you're looking for and will work hard to fix some things maybe he doesn't do perfectly. We're just trying to get good football players that can help our team."
The Broncos have temporarily lost a mainstay on their offensive line — and someone to keep their quarterback upright — when Pro Bowl left tackle Ryan Clady underwent surgery to repair his partially torn left patellar tendon, the result of an injury while playing basketball.
It's a topic McDaniels didn't really want to delve into Saturday.
"We'll be hopeful that they can come back as soon as they possibly can," McDaniels said. "We don't know exactly when, we don't have a timetable for that. We have a lot of people here who play those spots and more than one player who has had an offseason procedure and we'll make do."
The Broncos will be auditioning replacements to hold down the spot until Clady can return. Tyler Polumbus may be a possibility, along with rookie Zane Beadles.
"All I can do is go out there and learn as much as I can everyday and work my butt off and we'll see what happens," said Beadles, a University of Utah product taken in the second round. "Hopefully (Clady) recovers very quickly."