Tim Tebow will start at quarterback on Sunday against Houston at INVESCO Field at Mile High, Interim Head Coach Eric Studesville said in a Monday press conference.
Tebow made his first career start in Sunday’s 39-23 loss in Oakland, finishing 8-of-16 passing for 138 yards and a touchdown. The 2010 first-round pick’s 100.5 passer rating marked the highest-ever for a Denver rookie quarterback in a starting debut.
He also added seven rushes for 78 yards, including a 40-yard first-quarter rushing touchdown.
The performance earned positive reviews from Studesville and Tebow’s teammates in the minutes after the loss. With Kyle Orton still rehabbing a rib injury, Studesville said a day later that Tebow earned the chance to make his first home start.
“I thought Tim played well in his first start in a difficult environment, being in there with those fans when they started getting cranked up,” Studesville said. “I thought he really managed everything well — the environment, our game plan, got us in and out of the things that we needed to and just ran our offense well.”
Against the Raiders, the team waited until Sunday to announce that Tebow would start. With Kyle Orton still dealing with a rib injury, Studesville said the team decided to make the decision early heading into a Week 16 showdown with the Texans.
The interim head coach said he met with both quarterbacks on Monday morning to explain his decision.
“With where he is right now, we just felt that prolonging this later into the week was not the best thing for our preparation and practice,” Studesville said. “So, we decided to make the decision earlier in the week to go and do this.”
Studesville lauded Tebow for his energizing leadership style and ability “to put the ball where he needed to in order to give us a chance to win the football game” in his debut starting effort. The coach also said he’s excited about building on the performance with another week for Tebow to take a majority of the first-team quarterback reps.
With another week to improve and tweak the gameplan toward Tebow’s strengths, it’s a process that excites Studesville going forward.
“We are finding more and more out about what he does,” Studesville said. “That game yesterday gave us a lot of information and a lot of things that we can work with and go from and that we can build on as coaches to give him. We have seen it out here (at practice), but it is different when everything is full speed on Sunday afternoon.”
JACKSON JOINS SQUAD
The Broncos added Chevis Jackson to the active roster on Monday when they were assigned the third-year cornerback off waivers. To make room, the team waived linebacker Kevin Alexander.
Jackson, a third-year player out of LSU, has appeared in 33 career regular season games with three starts during stints with Jacksonville and Atlanta. He most recently played with New England but did not appear in any games before being waived on Saturday.
The former third round pick has 64 career tackles, including one sack, and one interception. He also played in one postseason game as a rookie with the Falcons, garnering an interception in a start against Arizona.
Alexander played in eight games, playing mostly on special teams, after being elevated from the practice squad on Oct. 16. The linebacker notched one tackle and a pass breakup on defense and added three special-teams stops.
Studesville said he’s hopeful the team will get back several injured players this week but urged waiting until later in the week before making more concrete judgements.
Knowshon Moreno missed the final three quarters on Sunday after injuring his side. Studesville said the second-year running back spent the morning getting treatment at the team’s Dove Valley facility.
“He is a little sore and we will continue to evaluate that as we go through the week and see where we are with him,” Studesville said.
Matt Prater missed his second straight game with a right groin injury, and the interim head coach said the kicker will test the leg early in the week. If he can’t go, Studesville said he’s been pleased by the job Steven Hauschka has done in Prater’s place and would continue to use the newcomer, who has hit four of his five field goal attempts in the last two games.
Studesville also expressed optimism that Demaryius Thomas (ankle) and Brian Dawkins (knee) might be able to return this week. Thomas has missed the past four games, while Dawkins has been out for three straight.
Thomas practiced on a limited basis last Friday, which the interim head coach viewed as a positive step toward having the rookie wide receiver back against the Texans.
“We got him out moving around a little bit and hope to get a little bit more this week from him,” Studesville said. “He will continue his rehab and what he is doing and monitor it day by day.”