Tebow's presence complicates Patriots' preparation

Tebow's presence complicates Patriots' preparation
October 18, 2012, 6:20 pm
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FOXBORO -- In the NFL, you must turn the page quickly. The Patriots have been acknowledging that all week as they try to move on from last Sunday's loss in Seattle and prepare for this Sunday's game against the New York Jets.

The transition from the Seahawks to the Jets isn't a seamless one, though. Mainly because of the wrinkle that is Tim Tebow.

Sure, from the outside, Tebow hasn't been anything close to the game-changing player he was last year, when he took the football world by storm. But in fairness to Tebow, that's because he hasn't been used anywhere close to as much as he was while the starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos.

Though Mark Sanchez' numbers aren't great, he's still the Jets' starting quarterback. In fact, Tebow has only thrown the ball three times in six games, completing two of those passes for 32 yards.

"They're running the ball well and Sanchez is playing well these last couple weeks," said Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo on Thursday. "They're a dangerous football team. They have a great offensive line, a couple good running backs that are a different, change-of-pace type of backs . . . They have a lot of different weapons."

As Rex Ryan's original plan was drawn up, Tebow is one of those weapons, and he's been used in many different ways this season. Which is why the Patriots have the unusual task for preparing for a backup quarterback in a somewhat unfamiliar manner.

"He's obviously a guy that can run the ball," said linebacker Rob Ninkovich. "He's a strong guy.

"Last year, obviously, we saw him a few times. (The Patriots played Denver twice, once in the regular season and once in the playoffs.) So we've seen him. That helps us out.

"You've got to give him attention," added Ninkovich. "Because, you never know what game they're going to keep him in there longer, or have more of a focus on him during that game. So obviously, our defense has to respect the wildcat-type offense."

Mayo said he's never had to prepare for a backup quarterback like this before. But that's because Tebow isn't your everyday backup QB.

"He doesn't only play quarterback," said Mayo on Thursday. "He plays a lot of different spots. So I don't know how much he'll be playing quarterback against us, but we'll be ready for it.

Tebow has rushed the ball 18 times for 64 yards. He's also lined up at wide receiver, and even has recorded two tackles this season.

"Well, obviously, he has a specific skill set," said Mayo. "He can do a lot of different things. Special teams, playing quarterback, and sometimes he lines up at wide receiver. So he does a lot of different things for them.

"You always have to know where he is. But at the same time, he's a football player, just like everyone else."