It was just like old times for Tim Tebow during organized team activities for the Eagles Thursday at the NovaCare Complex: It was not very good.
Tebow, a Heisman Trophy winner and a two-time college football champion at Florida, showed explosiveness as a runner. But even though Eagles coach Chip Kelly raved about his improvement as a passer before the workout, that was not immediately evident.
Thursday was the Eagles’ third workout and the first witnessed by the media. At first glance, the new and improved Tebow, who has spent more than a year working on his throwing motion with former major-league pitcher Tom House, looked a lot like the quarterback who completed just 47.9 percent of his NFL passes. He didn’t show great accuracy, especially downfield, and often held the ball too long. One tipped Tebow pass was intercepted by 6-foot-9 Brian Mihalik.
Tebow is expected to battle Matt Barkley for the Eagles’ third quarterback spot. Although others have suggested he also could help at special teams, one of those people is not Kelly.
Another thing that hasn’t changed about Tebow is that he remains highly popular. He signed with the Eagles on April 20, but Thursday was his first time talking to the Philadelphia media and he had a captive audience.
“I am glad to be here and it is a lot of fun,” Tebow said. “I have really enjoyed everybody in that locker room and the coaches and everybody in the building.”
A 6-foot-3, 245-pound lefthander, Tebow led the Denver Broncos to the playoffs in 2011. Denver brought in Peyton Manning the next year and traded Tebow to the New York Jets, where he attempted just eight passes while serving as a backup to current Eagles quarterback Mark Sanchez in 2012.
Tebow went to training camp in 2013 with the New England Patriots but was cut before the regular season. He was working for ESPN and ABC before Kelly called.
“I think he’s improved,” Kelly said. “He spent a lot of time the last two years in terms of working on his game. We wanted to have a fourth quarterback here. You’re not going to go through with three.”
With Sam Bradford limited at practice while rehabilitating from a left knee injury, Sanchez worked with the first unit, Barkley the second and Tebow the third.
Barkley, now in his third season with the Eagles, looked confident. If Tebow’s presence bothers him, he’s not letting on.
Tebow “hasn’t taken away my reps. It is Mark and I for now until everybody is healthy,” Barkley said. “We’re going back and forth competing with each other, making each other better every day.”
Tebow is grateful for the chance to compete for a roster spot. He said several times that his main goal is to get better every day. Yet Tebow did say that his prolonged absence has fueled his hunger ever more.
“I think sometimes when things are taken away, then you don’t realize how much fun it is to come out here and play this game,” he said. “You can’t play it forever, so I am going to enjoy it.”