Ever since the New England Patriots signed Tim Tebow, the football world has speculated about the former Heisman Trophy winner possibly playing a position other than quarterback. The Patriots already have a future Hall of Famer under center in Tom Brady and a capable backup in Ryan Mallett, so Tebow will likely never see the field if he’s just the third-string quarterback. However, Patriots owner Robert Kraft made an impromptu radio appearance on Friday morning and made a comment that leads me to believe Tebow is likely to play in other roles this season.
ESPN’s Mike and Mike broadcasted live from Gillette Stadium on Friday and Kraft just happened to stop by the booth during the last hour of the radio show, which is also televised. When blatantly asked if the Patriots have a plan to use Tebow in a position other than quarterback, Kraft said he didn’t want to give New England’s AFC East rivals any advantage this season. The mischievous look on Kraft’s face when he said it makes it easy to interpret the answer to the question as “yes.”
Kraft praised Tebow for being a great person and a team-first player who is the right kind of individual to help the Patriots rebuild their image after the Aaron Hernandez debacle. He also talked about Tebow’s work ethic and his willingness to help the team win in any way he can, which has to mean the former Florida Gators standout will play other positions. Why else would he say that?
Don’t get me wrong; Tebow isn’t going to start at tight end or anything crazy like that, but you can bet he’ll see action on special teams, Wildcat formations and other unique plays designed specifically for him. Florida used the “Tebow Package” during his reign in Gainesville and the Patriots will likely have a similar set that allows Tebow to run behind a slew of blockers and possibly make dump-off passes in the right situations.
Look, a gimmick-friendly team like the Patriots didn’t sign a player as unique and one that comes with as much extra attention as Tebow without a plan to use him. As mentioned, Tebow won’t start at tight end, but if the Patriots need him to fill in for a play or two with Hernandez gone and Rob Gornkowski still injured, you better believe No. 5 will be on the field in that spot. If New England wants to run a specific short pass play that would be better suited to a left-handed passer, you can bet Tebow will be on the field in that situation. Kraft also mentioned Tebow’s ability to run the ball, which will undoubtedly be utilized in special sets like the one described above.
In short, it was always a safe assumption that Tebow would play other positions this year, but now that Kraft has basically admitted it with a riddle of an answer and a wink, don’t bet that Tebow won’t see the field for the Patriots this year. Trust me, you’ll lose that wager.