Tim Tebow has respect of Jets

CORTLAND, N.Y. -- Tim Tebow is having trouble finding his receivers, but he's connecting with teammates.

His shirtless run in the rain -- a photo that went viral Saturday on the Internet -- was a hot topic of conversation in the New York Jets' locker room, where Tebow was subjected to a heavy dose of razzing. You might say he caught a lot of shirt for removing his practice jersey in a heavy downpour at the end of practice.

"Maybe it was holy water," linebacker Bart Scott said jokingly Sunday, alluding to Tebow's strong religious beliefs.

Tebow, surprised it became such a big story, showed a self-deprecating side by showing up topless for a quarterbacks meeting.

At least he can laugh at himself.

The backup quarterback with rock-star popularity is off to a shaky start on the field, struggling with his accuracy, but he has impressed his new team with his work ethic and humble approach.

"How can you ever not accept somebody who has humility, who works hard, who's a great teammate?" Scott said.

A couple of team members suggested Tebow's dash past photographers was calculated, a way to divert attention from his lousy practice. Even if that's true, it didn't seem to bother anyone. Mostly, they laughed it off.

"You have to give him a hard time," said linebacker Bryan Thomas, laughing. "Man, that's not Christian-like."

Tebow knew it became a big deal because he mentioned it to his roommate, wide receiver Chaz Schilens, when he got back to the dorm.

"I didn't see it, but I heard it was all over the news," Schilens said. "You guys got him on that. It was a little funny ... but I bet he doesn't do it again."

Schilens has an inside view of Tebowmania. He's not sure how he wound up as Tebow's roommate -- it apparently is a random pairing -- but he has enjoyed the arrangement. He said Tebow wakes up every day at 6 a.m., exhibits "mid-level" neatness and basically acts like a normal person.

"I tell him, 'I don't know how you do it,' " said Schilens, who has received calls from friends who want him to ask Tebow for an autograph. "I've never seen anything like it. The fans around here love him. The moment he steps on the field, the fans are just fascinated by him, and rightly so. He's a good dude."

After a lukewarm reception Saturday for the public practice, Tebow received a huge ovation Sunday when he scrambled out of the pocket and ran up the sideline closest to the bleachers -- the first true Tebow moment in training camp.

In the meeting room, Tebow is attentive and curious, according to teammates. They say he's usually one of the first players to raise his hand in the classroom, asking questions of the coaches.

"Having Tim has been fantastic," third-string quarterback Greg McElroy said. "He's such a positive guy, he's such a worker. It's fun to see him. You hear all the stories about him, from college and the NFL, and now I finally get a chance to spend a little time with him."

Tebow likes to show off in the weight room. If a teammate matches one of his lifts, he'll put more weight on the bar. He's a rock-solid 251 pounds, the heaviest he's ever been. It was by design; the Jets want him to be able to withstand the pounding that will occur when he carries the ball out of the Wildcat package.

Rookie Matt Simms, the son of former New York Giants star Phil Simms, has a front-row seat to the most compelling quarterback dynamic in the league. Simms said friends are constantly asking him about Tebow and starter Mark Sanchez.

"The question is usually, 'How are Mark and Tim together?' " Simms said. "That's more the big question, because that's the question on ESPN every day. I tell them, 'It's not as big a deal as you think.' They're normal guys who just like playing football."

Sanchez has outplayed Tebow after three practices, but that shouldn't come as a big surprise. Tebow isn't known as a strong practice player, but he never lets up and keeps on smiling amid intense media scrutiny.

"Half you guys wouldn't be here if it weren't for him," Scott told a crowd of reporters. "He takes it in stride and never lets if affect his relationship with his teammates. We know it comes with the territory. We're able to deal with it. It's New York. We can handle anything."