PHILADELPHIA - During a single practice, coach Chip Kelly's mix tape can lurch from genre to genre without any apparent rhyme or reason. In one 30-minute period at the Eagles minicamp Tuesday, it went from heavy metal to hip-hop to pop to house music.
Kelly has not included Christian rock in his practice repertoire. But don't rule it out. With Tim Tebow competing with Matt Barkley to be the third-string quarterback, it appears that anything is possible.
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Tebow hasn't worn an NFL uniform since Patriots coach Bill Belichick cut him right before the 2013 season. In the intervening 22 months, he has worked as a broadcaster on the SEC network, co-hosted "Good Morning America," kept a grueling public speaking/ preaching schedule, worked on his foundation and been the target of jokes about his inability to catch on in the NFL.
He also put in hundreds of hours with California-based quarterback guru Tom House in order to modify a throwing motion that many felt kept him from sustained success. Tebow no longer makes an exaggerated looping motion when preparing to pass. These new mechanics have led to a quicker release, a better outlook and a shot of making an NFL roster. Tuesday, after the first day of a mandatory minicamp, Tebow told reporters that, thanks to House, he feels like a new player.
"I just feel so much more confident, so much more accurate," Tebow said. "I feel quicker, able to trust a lot more."
Tebow, 27, hasn't played in a regular-season game since the Jets' season finale in 2012. But he sees no reason why his new mechanics won't make the transition from seven-on-seven drills to a game-day situation.
"I've gotten so many thousands and thousands of reps. It's so ingrained," he said, referring to the amount of work he's done with House the past two years. "It's muscle memory."
It was House's endorsement that got Tebow a visit with Kelly this past winter and then a one-year contract. At first glance, Tebow and Kelly seem like the oddest of couples. Kelly puts a premium on how a player fits the team's overall philosophy and system.
Tebow, with his legion of rabid fans, always has been a bit of a freelancer. He was a big distraction three years ago with the Jets and did not fit in well enough with the Patriots.
Kelly always has seen himself as a maverick. Figuring out how to use Tebow, succeeding where coaches such as Bill Belichick have failed, has its appeal.
What's more, Kelly is bringing in Tebow with no pressure. He already has two quarterbacks capable of being starters in Sam Bradford and Mark Sanchez. In Kelly's round-robin-style practice system, backup quarterbacks get plenty of reps. Tebow, with his mobility and arm, has a chance to flourish in Kelly's system.
Wide receiver Jordan Matthews believes the quarterback competition will make everyone a better player.
"We've got four guys who are all hungry and all want to work," he said. "I don't want to see who's the front-runner. I just catch the ball. I see a brown thing and I catch it. To me, it doesn't matter who throws it."