Tim Tebow aiming to gain weight

Updated: June 14, 2012, 6:44 PM ET
By Rich Cimini | ESPNNewYork.com

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Tim Tebow is bringing extra pounds to the New York Jets' ground-and-pound offense.

Tebow, whom the Jets plan to use in a Wildcat package, revealed Wednesday at minicamp that his weight is 249 pounds -- about nine pounds heavier than his playing weight last season with the Denver Broncos. The Jets' backup quarterback said the team wants him at 250 for the season.

"I'm trying to be in shape, be strong enough to do anything, but also fast enough to run around a little bit as well," said Tebow, adding that he's never been this heavy.

This provides further evidence that Tebow will be an integral part of the rushing attack. The Jets have emphasized that his playing time will come in the Wildcat and that he's not competing with Mark Sanchez for the starting job.

On Day 2 of the mandatory minicamp, witnessed by a few hundred fans in Tebow's first public practice, the Jets demonstrated just how much they want to avoid a controversy. It involved some damage control.

Before practice, Rex Ryan said "there may be a time" in training camp or the preseason when Tebow practices with the starting unit. Until Wednesday, he had worked almost exclusively with the second-team offense.

Immediately after Ryan's news conference, a team spokesman attempted to clarify the coach's remarks, saying Ryan meant Tebow would take first-team reps in the Wildcat package, not the conventional offense.

As it turned out, Tebow took two first-team reps at the end of practice -- both in the red zone. Privately, the Jets believe Tebow can be a weapon inside the 20 because of his running ability.

Afterward, Tebow laughed when asked if there was any significance to the two reps. No, he said.

"Coach [Tony] Sparano does it every now and then, kind of throws you in there," he said, referring to the offensive coordinator. "I don't know if it's necessarily a plan; it's just kind of a feel thing."

The Jets' plan is to use him in the red zone. They ranked No. 1 in red zone efficiency last season, but they didn't re-sign their top weapon, wide receiver Plaxico Burress. They believe Tebow will add a different dimension to their power-running attack, especially on a short field.

At 250 pounds, Tebow will be the heaviest ball carrier on the team, even bigger than fullback John Conner, who weighs 245 pounds. It's not that Tebow looks flabby; he's in terrific shape and was voted by teammates the second-best weightlifter on the offense. Ryan described Tebow's physique as "rocked up" -- which also could help him in his role as the up-back on the punt team.

Sparano said his No. 1 objective, for now, is to make Tebow a better quarterback. So far, he has been inconsistent, particularly with his accuracy. But teammates say it's unfair to judge him because he has been working with mostly inexperienced backups.

That puts Tebow at a disadvantage, especially if he's relegated to second-team reps throughout the summer. Not wanting to make a stink, he downplayed it.

"One way to look at it is, if you do a good job with the group you're with, you should do even a better job with the ones," he said.

Tebow's first exposure to New York fans didn't generate much of a buzz. A few fans yelled his name during the practice, but some also called out for Sanchez. It was hardly the circus atmosphere that some predicted.

Of course, this was only a minicamp in June, a long way from the real games.

After practice, Tebow signed autographs for fans, as did Sanchez, who was standing near him. The gap between the two quarterbacks is greater on the depth chart.

From a passing standpoint, Sanchez has outperformed Tebow, although Ryan claimed both quarterbacks have exceeded their completion percentages from last season. Both players are trying to adapt to Sparano's system.

"I feel the ball jumping off my hand," said Sanchez, adding that he's in the best shape of his life.

Like Tebow, Sanchez has gained weight (he's up five pounds to 230), hoping it will help him withstand the wear and tear of a full season. He also believes improved lower-body strength has added velocity to his passes.

Asked if this is the strongest he's ever been, Sanchez replied, "Absolutely. Easily."

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

EDITORS' PICKS