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Off the Snap: Tim Tebow spending '99 percent' of his time at QB in Patriots' practices

Tim Tebow is reportedly unlikely to be used as a tight end for the Patriots. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)Tim Tebow is reportedly unlikely to be used as a tight end for the Patriots. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Catching you up on the latest must-read news and analysis from around the web….

• If Tim Tebow is to make the Patriots' roster (and, yes, it's still an "if" proposition), he's going to have to do so as a quarterback. Despite all the hype about Tebow possibly helping out New England at tight end, with Rob Gronkowski injured and Aaron Hernandez no longer on the team, very little in the team's practices thus far indicates any ultra-creative usages for the ex-Jet.

Ben Volin of the Boston Globe reported that "Ninety-nine percent of Tebow’s activity during his time with the Patriots has been spent learning to play quarterback in the team’s system," with the lone outside venture being a short drill in which Tebow joins the skill players for a catch-and-run exercise.

"Hate to burst everyone’s bubble, but Tebow isn’t preparing to play tight end, fullback or any other position except quarterback," Volin wrote. "As McDaniels explained on Monday, the Patriots are only including Tebow in the drill because he has the potential to be a ballcarrier as a scrambling quarterback."

This all ties back in to the initial argument against Tebow as a tight end: He's never been one. It may be fun to speculate on the off-the-wall ways the Patriots might employ him (as it was prior to his monotonous turn as the Jets' backup QB), but players do not oft switch positions and thrive in the NFL.

Tom Brady's obviously going to be the Patriots' starter at QB, and Ryan Mallett is all but certain to hold on to his backup job. So, that leaves the No. 3 role -- and little else -- for Tebow.

• The Jets' quarterback competition may be a wide-open one, but consider the scales tipped in Mark Sanchez's favor at the moment. The reason? According to the NFL Network's Brian Baldinger, Geno Smith's fitness level is "actually embarrassing" right now compared to Sanchez and fellow QB Matt Simms.

Baldinger reported that Smith faltered badly during sprint drills at the end of practice -- "[He] looked like he had done no conditioning," Baldinger said.

There's a lot of time for Smith to get his act together prior to the regular season, but the Jets surely won't come away from such a performance impressed. And the preseason opener for New York is just days away (Aug. 9, at Detroit). Smith will be in line for plenty of snaps that night, but only if he can keep up.

• Which quarterback delivered the best passing game of 2012? The answer, at least by the Adjusted Value metric of Chase Stuart at FootballPerspective.com, might surprise you.

Stuart's math places Chad Henne's four-TD showing against the Houston Texans atop last season's list, just ahead of Tom Brady's Thanksgiving night destruction of the Jets and Aaron Rodgers' six-touchdown game vs. Houston. Henne finished with 354 yards passing in that game, with three scoring tosses of 60 yards or more.

• Speaking of Chad Henne ...

He may be taking the majority of the Jaguars' first-team reps at QB over the next couple of days, after incumbent starter Blaine Gabbert suffered a minor ankle injury on Monday. Gabbert had to be carted from the field, but ESPN's Ed Werder reported the "injury is not believed serious." Werder added that Gabbert may miss only one or two practices.

Still, that could provide a tiny bit more time for Henne to prove that he is worthy of Jacksonville's starting gig. Henne and Gabbert combined to go 2-14 last season -- Gabbert was 1-9 as the Jags' starter, Henne 1-5.

• No matter who winds up quarterbacking the Philadelphia Eagles' offense, head coach Chip Kelly will want to push the envelope with an up-tempo attack. The game officials, though, could put a bit of a damper on those plans, according to the Wall Street Journal.

"We have to make sure teams understand that they don't control the tempo, our officials do," NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino told the Journal. "We're going through our normal ball mechanics, we aren't going to rush [unless] it's in the two-minute drill."

Other teams obviously run no-huddle offenses prior to the final two minutes of either half -- the Patriots and Broncos are a couple that come to mind. But both Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have had moments of frustration with this very element of the game, as the officials occasionally have slowed down the action by taking an extra beat or two to place the ball.

College officials have mostly adjusted to a faster pace of play. Will the NFL's men in stripes eventually do the same?

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