For most of his rookie season, Tim Tebow has had to rely on mental reps during the practice week with Kyle Orton taking a majority of the real snaps with the first-team offense.
That changed Wednesday with Orton limited in practice by injured ribs. Interim Head Coach Eric Studesville said Tebow took the majority of the first-team reps as he and Brady Quinn helped get the offense ready for Sunday’s game in Oakland.
“I think just getting more opportunities out there — more reps — that’s a lot of fun for me,” Tebow said. “That’s a chance to really work and improve and learn this offense even more. If I get an opportunity on Sunday, that’ll be exciting as well.”
Both Studesville and Offensive Coordinator Mike McCoy said they were pleased with Tebow’s practice showing, expressing confidence in the 2010 first-round pick, who has not seen extended snaps in a game since the preseason.
“He did a nice job in practice yesterday,” McCoy said. “He went in there and ran the huddle, did a nice job throwing the football and going through alert systems and everything else in the run game.”
But that doesn’t mean Orton — who has started 28 of the team’s past 29 games — won’t be ready to play Sunday.
Studesville said Orton could thereotically start without taking many — or any — practice reps this week, but he will wait until later in the week to make a decision. The coach said the starter will continue to get treatment on the ribs and rest as much as possible. McCoy said he is planning as if Orton, who was limited again in Thursday’s session, will play.
Orton hurt the ribs in Sunday’s game in Arizona. Tebow warmed up, but the sixth-year signal caller didn’t miss a snap. That’s an example of Orton’s toughness that has Brandon Lloyd believing the banged-up quarterback will be ready to go on Sunday.
“If Kyle can walk, he will play,” Lloyd said. “You really admire that because of the sacrifice and sacrificing his body for the betterment of the team.”
Tebow said he didn’t believe the game plan heading into Sunday’s rematch with the Raiders would change based on who was under center. Until Orton’s status becomes more clear, the rookie is happy to take advantage of his opportunity.
After consistently talking about being ready for any situation, Tebow said his approach has paid off now that he is spending more time in practice working on the Broncos offense than running the scout team.
“I think just by trying to study hard all year and be ready for any opportunity helps,” Tebow said. “Now, getting to go out there and physically do it helps a lot.”
A day after seven Broncos missed practice, five of them returned for Thursday’s workout.
Brandon Lloyd (calf) returned to full participation after classifying Wednesday as “a rest day.” Kevin Alexander (ankle), David Bruton (ribs), Matt Prater (right groin) and Marcus Thomas (ankle) practiced on a limited basis.
Studesville said he is hopeful about Prater’s progress but indicated the team won’t decide whether to keep two kickers on the active roster heading into Sunday’s game until later in the week. The Broncos used recently signed Steven Hauschka in Week 14 with Prater out of action.
“(Prater) is going to kick today,” Studesville said. “We are going to get him out there and kick the ball a little bit today and get him going and see where we are with that.”
Brian Dawkins (knee) and Demaryius Thomas (ankle) missed practice for the second straight day, and Jamal Williams (non-injury) also got the workout off.
Darcel McBath (quadricep) went from full participation on Wednesday to limited participation on Thursday.
Eric Decker (foot) and Spencer Larsen (hamstring) practiced fully for the second straight day.
Oakland also got back several players on Thursday with LB Rolando McClain (foot) being the only Raider to miss practice.
DB Nnamdi Asomugha (ankle), WR Johnnie Lee Higgins (ankle), DT Richard Seymour (knee), QB Kyle Boller (quadricep), S Hiram Eugene (ribs) and WR Nick Miller (ankle) were all limited in practice. T Khalif Barnes (back), S Tyvon Branch (shoulder), LB Travis Goethel (knee), CB Chris Johnson and TE Zach Miller fully participated in the session.
- Eric Detweiler, DenverBroncos.com
Below are some photos from Thursday’s workout: