Tebow's presence complicates Patriots' preparation


Tebow's presence complicates Patriots' preparation

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."

Tom Brady delivers video message at funeral of Navy SEAL

Tom Brady delivers video message at funeral of Navy SEAL

Tom Brady delivered a video message last week at the funeral of Navy SEAL Kyle Milliken, a Maine native and former UConn track athlete killed in Somalia on May 5.

Bill Speros of The Boston Herald, in a column this Memorial Day weekend, wrote about Milliken and Brady's message.   

Milliken ran track at Cheverus High School in Falmouth, Maine, and at UConn, where he graduated in 2001. Milliken lived in Virginia Beach, Va., with his wife, Erin, and two children.  He other Navy SEALs participated in a training exercise at Gillette Stadium in 2011 where he met and posed for pictures with Brady.

Speros wrote that at Milliken’s funeral in Virginia Beach, Va., Brady's video offered condolences and thanked Milliken’s family for its sacrifice and spoke of how Milliken was considered a “glue guy” by UConn track coach Greg Roy.

Milliken had served in Iraq and Afghanistan, earning four Bronze Star Medals and was based in Virginia since 2004.  He was killed in a nighttime firefight with Al-Shabaab militants near Barij, about 40 miles from the Somali capital of Mogadishu. He was 38.

The Pentagon said Milliken was the first American serviceman killed in combat in Somalia since the "Black Hawk Down" battle that killed 18 Americans in 1993. 

In a statement to the Herald, Patriots owner Robert Kraft said: “It was an honor to host Kyle and his team for an exercise at Gillette Stadium in 2011. It gave new meaning to the stadium being known as home of the Patriots. We were deeply saddened to hear of Kyle’s death earlier this month.

“As Memorial Day weekend approaches, we are reminded of the sacrifices made by patriots like Kyle and so many others who have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend and protect our rights as Americans. Our thoughts, prayers and heartfelt appreciation are extended to the Milliken family and the many families who will be remembering lives lost this Memorial Day weekend.”