However, that progress is definitely manifesting itself in a meaningful way lately.
The Jets’ offense was crisp and smooth last week against the Indianapolis Colts, and Tebow contributed with a well-executed fake punt pass for a 23-yard completion to convert on fourth-and-long at one point.
Starting quarterback Mark Sanchez played well last week, and he’s now the unquestioned starting signal-caller.
So where, oh where will Tim Tebow be on Sunday, when the Jets battle the rival New England Patriots for first place in the AFC East?
Well, we know he’ll be the personal punt protector, the only role he’s consistently seen regular playing time at.
He’s seen time at receiver and tight end, as well as quarterback at times, both with and without Sanchez present.
But with reserve running back Bilal Powell out with a separated shoulder, and fellow reserve running back Joe McKnight battling a high ankle sprain, the Jets are suddenly short-handed at the halfback position.
Could it be Tebow to the rescue? Head coach Rex Ryan was coy.
“That’s a possibility,” Ryan said. “The thing about Tim, with him being a football player … he knows all the positions and so, can you plug him in at running back? Can you plug him in at tight end, whatever? I think the answer is yes.”
Tebow has bulked up to around 250 lbs in his first season with the Jets, mostly to better prepare him for the personal protector role on special teams, but also because he is well suited for the Jets’ short-yardage back role.
Tebow has been very successful in those situations this year, and with Shonn Greene the only healthy experienced running back on the team, it might be a pretty good idea to line up Tebow like a traditional halfback.
Undrafted rookie Jonathan Grimes is the only other healthy running back on the roster, and fullback Lex Hilliard is another potential option as a ball-carrier, should an emergency situation arise.
But Tebow might be a more talented runner than anybody on the Jets roster. The Jets will have pull out all the stops to beat the Patriots, and that might mean taking advantage of the athleticism and versatility Tim Tebow provides.
Of course, Rex Ryan has an ulterior motive when it comes to publicly speculating about Tebow’s role.
He wants the Patriots to spend valuable preparation time thinking about something that may or may not happen. It may sound silly, but it’s just a little bit of gamesmanship for Bill Belichick to keep in mind.
Will Tim Tebow play running back on Sunday? We’ll have to wait and see.
The Jets have been pretty creative with Tebow’s skill-set this season, but they’re just warming up.
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