There was a buzz around the Twin Cities this spring when Florida quarterback Tim Tebow was rumored to be headed to the Vikings in the NFL draft.
While this was believed by some (including me) to be a smoke screen, it ended up being an non-issue when the Broncos sent three picks to Baltimore in order to select Tebow 25th overall. This came only a few months after Tebow struggled in his Senior Bowl workouts and subsequently began refining his throwing motion.
On Thursday night, Vikings fans will get their first look at Tebow and it should be a long one. It sounds as if Broncos starter Kyle Orton will play a series or two against the Vikings in the preseason finale at Mall of America Field at the Metrodome and then be replaced by Tebow for about a quarter-and-a-half. Former Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn will then come in.
It's possible that Quinn could replace Orton but it sounds like the Broncos want to give Tebow every chance to win the backup job. That's in part because if Tebow is designated as the No. 3 quarterback on game day the Broncos top two quarterbacks could not be used in the game at any position if Tebow is inserted before the fourth quarter.
Tebow could be used in a variety of different formations and the Broncos are likely to want to have that ability. Also, it sounds as if Tebow is making a quicker adjustment to the Broncos' offensive system than Quinn.
Tebow, however, remains a work in progress as far as his mechanics. The issue isn't just his throwing motion but also a long stride on passes that needs to be shortened.
Tebow, a finalist for the Heisman Trophy for three consecutive years (won the award in 2007), has played in two of the Broncos' three preseason games having missed the Aug. 21 loss to Detroit because of bruised ribs. Tebow suffered the injury running for a game-ending 7-yard touchdown in Denver's 33-24 loss to Cincinnati in its preseason opener.
Tebow was never afraid to take off with the ball in college and he did it against the Bengals, hitting linebacker Abdul Hodge at the goal line and then taking on safety Kyries Hebert. Tebow's injury led to discussion about whether he could continue to play this style at the NFL level.
He returned last Sunday to play against Pittsburgh and completed five of 10 passes for 72 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Overall, Tebow has completed 13 of 23 passes for 177 yards with a pick and a TD.
The touchdown pass, by the way, was thrown to former Gopher and fellow rookie Eric Decker. Decker, a third-round pick by the Broncos, also has played in two of three preseason games. He missed the opener against the Bengals because of a sprained left ankle.
Decker, who has caught six passes for 69 yards this preseason, did not aggravate the Lisfranc foot fracture he suffered last season with the Gophers.