The New England Patriots officially began training camp on Friday. Tim Tebow arrived with plenty of media attention, and was peppered with questions about Aaron Hernandez and joining his third team in three years. The former Heisman Trophy winner, however, made news when he finally stepped onto the field.
In the morning, head coach Bill Belichick said he’d use Tebow “where ever we feel is best for the team.” It appears he thinks Tebow can help the club by catching passes. According to Albert Beer of the NFL Network, Tebow lined up with running backs and receivers in a non-contact tackling drill. Before that, he was seen catching passes.
Since he entered the league, there has been speculation that Tebow could be used as tight end. While he’s been used in the Wildcat offense and in special team packages, the quarterback barely saw anytime as a pass catcher. He has no receptions in his three-year career. Tebow did receive one target last year, which ended in disaster, as the ball hit him in the helmet.
New England signed Tebow as a quarterback, but he may not have a realistic shot of getting on the field as a signal caller. Tom Brady has only ever suffered one serious injury, and Ryan Mallet is the No.2 quarterback. If Tebow is going to contribute to the Patriots in 2013, his best chance may be at another position.
The Patriots are lacking in depth at tight end. The loss of Aaron Hernandez was a big blow to the roster, and Rob Gronkowski has undergone several surgeries this offseason. When he’s healthy, Gronkowski may be the best player at his position. If he has trouble staying on the field, though, Tebow could see some time at tight end.
In the past, Tebow has expressed his desire to remain a quarterback. However, if he wants a spot on the roster, he may have to learn to play tight end. He told reporters that he would “do what coach asks me to do.”
The Patriots signed Tebow before they knew they’d be without Hernandez. The New England players have been told not to talk about the subject, but Tebow did briefly comment on the situation.
"It's just heartbreaking and sad, and all my thoughts and prayers go out to all the families that were involved," Tebow said. "I understand why you have to ask all the questions; that's part of doing your job. Part of mine is listening to instruction, and we've been told not to talk about it."