Tim Tebow gets off to a good start at Jets camp, special teams included

Tim Tebow during the Jets' first training camp

Tim Tebow during the Jets' first training camp practice at SUNY Cortland. (July 27, 2012) (Credit: Getty)

CORTLAND, N.Y. -- The world's most famous backup quarterback / punt protector spent his first training camp practice working extensively on both jobs, then pronounced himself pleased on all fronts.

"It was fun,'' Tim Tebow said Friday after taking the latest step in his evolution as a Jet. "It was a good day.''

That's easy to say at this time of year, of course. But considering the scrutiny he is under, it was a testament to his poise that he looked as comfortable as he did.

"He looked great in all phases,'' said Mark Sanchez, the Jets quarterback who doesn't play on special teams. "He was sprinting down on special teams like a monster. He made some good throws. He had some good scrambles.''

Coach Rex Ryan said he would like to see Tebow throw the ball away on scrambles at times rather than hold on to it to squeeze out extra yards. He also would like to see more consistency on short passes. But Ryan was impressed with Tebow's touch on long throws.

None was better than one on which he hit Jeremy Kerley at the right sideline. Technically there was a false start on the play, and Kerley might have been out of bounds. The spiral was lovely, though.

Tebow said he is reaping the benefits of offseason throwing practice with UCLA offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone and former major-league pitcher Tom House.

It will be impossible to draw firm conclusions about Tebow the quarterback at least until the Jets open preseason play. But camp will offer a clearer picture of the plan to use him on special teams.

On Friday, that involved lining up Tebow as the "personal protector" between the long snapper and punter. When was the last time he was asked to play such a prominent special-teams role? Said Tebow, "The last time was never."

Tebow said the assignment is fine with him, even though it takes some time away from passing in individual drills, and even though it involved repeatedly sprinting downfield during practice.

"I try to take a lot of pride in coming in in pretty good shape and being a well-conditioned athlete,'' he said. "I enjoy that part. It's fun. You don't get to do that a lot at quarterback.''

The 6-3, 236-pound Tebow is big enough to block and tackle. The intrigue comes from the threat of using him on fakes after receiving direct snaps from center.

The Jets ask journalists not to report on trick plays they see in practice, but given that Ryan and Tebow referred to fake punts Friday, feel free to draw your own conclusions.

Tebow said the idea is to keep punt-return units off balance. Said Ryan, "I think you have to think twice before you send them all out to rush because this guy can fake.''

Despite insisting he is OK with special teams, Tebow does not want that to be his label. "I just look at it as I'm a quarterback and then I get to sort of be a quarterback on fourth down,'' he said, laughing.

Tebow said he was more excited than nervous during his first day, which drew far more media attention than usual for the first practice of a team coming off a non-playoff season.

Both quarterbacks continue to insist the focus on them will not come between them.

"It's just who we are and where we were placed at, and there's not a lot we can control about it," Tebow said. "I think our relationship really helps with that, just knowing that we don't control anything that happens outside the building."

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