Former NFL linebacker says he’d ‘throw around’ Tebow as a tight end

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The news that the Jacksonville Jaguars are expected to sign former quarterback Tim Tebow as a tight end wasn’t just a surprise for many fans around the league. Several players, both current and former, have also spoken out about it, and many of them have been critical of Tebow and the Jags.

One of those players is former New England Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich. He sacked Tebow 1.5 times in the Broncos’ playoff loss to New England in 2012, and even four years out of the league, Ninkovich seems to think he could still do the same with Tebow at tight end, according to his comments on ESPN’s “Get Up!”

“No. No,” Ninkovich said when asked by show host Mike Greenberg if he believes Tebow will be on the Jaguars’ 53-man roster come Week 1. “Honestly, I look at this: if you threw a helmet and shoulder pads on me, and I haven’t played in four years, I would be able to throw around Tim Tebow as a tight end. Listen, listen, you can’t just go from quarterback to a tight end.

“You can’t do it. There’s guys on rosters, and this is one of the issues that I have with the whole thing. There’s some kid that’s coming out of college that wants an opportunity and wants just to have that roster spot to go out and have the opportunity to possibly make a team. Tim Tebow has had that opportunity in the NFL. He’s had his opportunity in the NFL. He was a quarterback — it didn’t last very long. Then he wanted to go play baseball — OK. Go play baseball. It didn’t work out in baseball.”

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That’s a fair criticism from Ninkovich, as it’s hard to argue that the recurring interest in Tebow is based on merit rather than his fame. But Ninkovich feels very confident that Tebow will be “exposed” playing tight end in the NFL.

“So now his relationship with Urban Meyer gives him another chance to go play football,” he said. “But it’s not like that in football, and this is one reason I love football and I fell in love with the game, you can’t hide. You can’t hide in football. You can’t go out in left field and just go somewhere. When you’re on that field and you put pads on, you’re exposed. That’s why I love the game. When you put pads on and someone’s talking, you say ‘Alright, let’s put pads on. Let’s see who’s the tougher guy.’ You can see the people who can play. You can see it with your eyes. The film doesn’t lie. The eye in the sky — you should say ‘the eye in the sky don’t lie.’ Because once that film is on, you’re going to be exposed.

“For me, I just don’t think mentally as a quarterback going to a physical position where you have to block and go against big men that he’ll be able to do that.”

Ninkovich is far from the only person voicing these opinions, but only time will tell if Tebow can successfully make the switch. His odds of making the 53-man roster are slim, but if he does, expect NFL linebackers to try to light him up if given the chance.

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