ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Tim Tebow insists he's a happy camper unfazed by his many critics who are blasting him over his inconsistent performances at the Denver Broncos training camp.
"I just have fun, you know, playing football," Tebow said. "I love doing that, and so when I get an opportunity, just play. It feels good. And I love doing it, so you know I'm not really down, no."
Tebow has been the subject of intense scrutiny this summer. Many expected him to be thrust into the starting role this season, but trade talks regarding Kyle Orton fizzled and Orton has been the clear No. 1 QB in Denver since the first day of camp.
Tebow? He looks as raw as he did last year as a rookie.
The popular but unpolished second-year pro from Florida is still trying to morph from a star college quarterback who relied on his legs and trademark jump pass into a drop-back, pocket passer in the pros.
Some scouts thought it could take two years or more for Tebow to make the transition from combination college quarterback to prototypical pocket passer. Others argued his success in college, his passion for football and his work ethic would make the transition smoother and shorter.
John Elway, the Broncos' Hall of Fame quarterback and chief of football operations, has said Tebow is a great athlete who needs to become a great quarterback, and that starts with becoming a pocket passer.
So, Tebow worked all offseason taking snaps under center and getting out of his comfort zone in the shotgun, but the lockout hurt him immensely. He wasn't able to augment his notorious work ethic with coaching tips from the new regime until two weeks ago.
Tebow still has flaws in his footwork and his throwing mechanics and decision-making which render many of his passes wildly incomplete and arm his critics with fresh material.
In the face of tough times and constant criticism, Tebow said he's keeping his head up. He used the word "fun" 11 times in a 5½-minute chat with reporters coming off the field Wednesday.
"Am I having fun? I am having fun," he said. "I enjoy playing this game."
Listed as Orton's primary backup on the first depth chart, Tebow said he expects to be the second Broncos quarterback to play in Denver's preseason opener at Dallas on Thursday night.
"I want to have fun because I'm playing the game I love. But also to compete, try to be able to put some drives in the end zone, because that's ultimately your goal, and then just execute the offense, right audibles, right 'hots,' right sights, right checks and just lead the guys out there and have fun doing it," Tebow said.
Tebow said he hasn't been given an indication about how many snaps he'll get.
Tebow's supporters suggest the true evaluation of Tebow should come in competition because he's always been a "gamer" who steps up and shines on game day even if his practices are spotty.
"Well, everything counts: practice, meeting, walkthrough, but I think there's a little extra credit in games because that's when the people are watching," Tebow said. "That's when the pressure's on. And that's when you really have to step up and see if you can cut it or not."
Tebow said he's eager to face the Cowboys and show the progress he's made as a pocket passer.
Tebow's improvisational skills worked in his favor at Florida but have provided mixed results in the NFL, where he suffered bruised ribs on a touchdown run in last year's preseason. He did run for six scores last year while throwing for six more.
Yet, Tebow demurred when asked if live action is how he can showcase his entire skill set.
"Well, yeah, I think some. But also I don't think that's something that I necessarily want to show, or feel like I have to show, because I want to do everything in the pocket and be the best pocket passer I can be and everything else and making great decisions," Tebow said.
"And then when stuff breaks down, then let my athletic ability take over to make plays. But I think that's something that they believe and they know that I can do at times. And so, it's not something like I have to show that necessarily."