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Tim Tebow to pitch in anywhere needed

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Tim Tebow insists he'll be a starting quarterback in the NFL someday. In the meantime, he wants to line up anywhere his coaches will let him.

The former Florida star whose adjustment to the pros is taking longer than he and his rabid fan base would like was pressed into duty as a slot receiver for a handful of snaps Sunday when the Denver Broncos' injury epidemic claimed starting wide receivers Brandon Lloyd and Eddie Royal.

A day later, his coach reiterated that Tebow, a third-stringer in his second pro season, is first and foremost a passer.

Some of Tebow's staunchest supporters suggest that while Tebow bides his time at quarterback, his talents could be put to use as an H-back, tight end, wide receiver or even on special teams.

"Well, I want to be a quarterback. I believe I can be; I believe I will be. And I've just got to keep working at that," Tebow said. "But if I can help the team in another way, that's what I'm here for.

"You know, we're all football players first."

Tebow dismisses the notion that playing other positions will stunt his development at quarterback.

"How's it's going to stunt my growth if I go out there on Sunday afternoon, we lose some receivers and I have to go out there and help the team?" Tebow said. "It's not like I'm going to the receivers' meetings. I'm just blessed to have the ability to go do it and if I'm asked to go do it, I help the team."

Tebow's game is built around his multifaceted talents, his instincts and his passion, not pinpoint passing, although the common perception is that his 50 percent completion percentage will have to rise about 10 points for him to be able to run an NFL offense full-time.

Tebow said the dual-threat talents that led him to hoist Heisman and national championship trophies with the Gators should serve him well in the pros, too.

"I mean, I look at it like an attribute, not a negative," he said. "Some people would look at it as a negative, but I don't. I say if I'm blessed to be able to do that and I have an opportunity to do that, I don't look at it as a bad thing."

Tebow lined up in the slot Sunday after Lloyd was a game-day scratch, rookie tight end Julius Thomas -- who was the emergency wide receiver -- sprained an ankle on Denver's first drive and Royal pulled up lame on a deep route in the second quarter.

All three joined wide receiver Demaryius Thomas on the sideline. Thomas, the Broncos' top draft pick a year ago, shattered his left pinkie in his first padded practice earlier this month after being cleared to play following a relatively rapid recovery from a torn Achilles tendon. He underwent surgery to put three screws in his pinkie and he's not expected back for another month.

Tebow was never targeted, although quarterback Kyle Orton said he wouldn't have hesitated to throw his way if he had to.

A day later when asked about using Tebow at other positions, coach John Fox said, "Let me make this totally clear: he is a quarterback. He did that just as an emergency situation, and we'll list him on the program as a quarterback."

And yet, just like last week, Tebow was running some routes at practice this week just in case.

"Well, one, I did that last year but just as extra conditioning because it's fun and I love playing football," Tebow said. "So, sometimes this offseason I would do it just as conditioning. Instead of running a 20-yard gasser, I'd just run a post and still get conditioning. But then (last week) they talked to me about the what-if and so then I started doing more routes, to be ready.

"And thank goodness those last few weeks I did do it because my number was called to go in there even though I didn't get a pass."

At 6-foot-3 and 235 pounds, Tebow had no trouble blocking his defender, however.

"There's not going to be too many 240-pound corners, so yeah, I feel like I can do OK out there," Tebow said with a smile.

Receivers coach Tyke Tolbert said Tebow can hold his own in the slot.

"The thing about Tim is he's such a competitor and he's a very good athlete and plus being a quarterback, he has to know what all the receivers do anyway," Tolbert said. "So, he can step in and do whatever we ask him to do, and that's just the competitive nature that he has. He competes just as hard as anybody on the team and he'll do whatever it takes to help the team."

But can he catch a pass if he had to?

"Yeah, he can catch," Tolbert insisted. "He's a good athlete. He can catch, he can block, he can throw. He can take snaps under center, he can take snaps from the gun, he can do it all."

Unlike in college, where he used his multiple skills to run over defenders as much as throw over them, Tebow doesn't spend his time working on those aspects of his game now but rather on the "things that I just haven't done a lot of: under-center drops, play-action drops, stepping up in the pocket," he said.

"All offseason I didn't take a snap out of shotgun because I've done that a lot, you know? So, why keep working on that?" Tebow said. "More than anything you want to make your weaknesses your strengths and then I think you'll just be that much better of a player."

Meantime, he'll eagerly lend his skills anywhere else they're needed.