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The Boston Globe

Sports

Tim Tebow splits role in Patriots workout

FOXBOROUGH — At first, Tim Tebow was asked about his position. Is he exclusively a quarterback or willing to try tight end?

The next three questions focused on Aaron Hernandez.

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Topics then ranged from the obvious (Tebow’s relationship with Tom Brady) to the absurd (might he go shirtless in the rain?).

In total, Tebow fielded 25 questions on Friday, the Patriots’ first day of training camp.

New England signed the third-string quarterback 46 days ago. Since then, he had addressed the media just once — a 34-second statement in June.

Friday’s media session, on the sideline of a damp practice field, lasted eight minutes.

Regarding Hernandez — his former teammate at Florida — Tebow called the situation “heartbreaking” and “sad.”

Tebow then deferred to the company line.

“We’ve been advised, I’m sure you’ve all heard a bunch of times, not to comment on a legal investigation,” Tebow said.

Hernandez, recently cut from the Patriots, is charged with the murder of Odin Lloyd.

“I understand why you have to ask all the questions,” Tebow said. “That’s part of your job. Part of mine is listening to instruction and not commenting.”

As for his position on the field?

Tebow said, “I’m just doing what I’m asked.”

So far, Tebow said, he’s “been strictly in the QB room.”

Earlier, coach Bill Belichick would not commit to Tebow playing quarterback exclusively.

“I think we’ll use Tim wherever we feel like is best for the team,” Belichick said. “I know that’s what he’s committed to doing as well, whatever that is.”

During the 2½-hour practice, Tebow was the third quarterback to take repetitions in drills — behind Brady and Ryan Mallett — and often took fewer repetitions than either of the other two.

In 11-on-11 drills, Tebow finished 6 for 10 on 14 reps, including two interceptions (by safety Nate Ebner and defensive end Chandler Jones).

The Jones pickoff came on a screen pass.

Tebow also lined up as a receiver for two separate drills, catching three passes with no drops.

That sparked curiosity.

Last season, the Jets utilized the 6-foot-3-inch, 236-pound Tebow in Wildcat and punt-protector roles.

Tebow politely declined to discuss his tenure in New York, which ended unceremoniously with his release in April.

“I’m just focused on what I can do here,” Tebow said. “Not anything that happened last year.”

Tebow called Friday’s practice “fun.” He said being a Patriot was “a great fit.”

Twice he referred to Brady as “one of the best quarterbacks of all time.”

“You get to sit in meetings with him, talk to him, come out here and train together,” Tebow said. “You pick up a lot of different things, a lot of good traits.”

Throughout the entire session, Tebow — although sopping wet — maintained a smile and composure. He laughed. He never hesitated with an answer.

He appeared defensive only once — when asked about his former college coach, Urban Meyer.

Meyer, now at Ohio State, has come under scrutiny for his handling of the discipline for Florida’s football team.

“I feel like Coach Meyer is a great man, one of the best I’ve had the privilege of being around,” Tebow said. “He is someone that not only tries to win football games, he is someone that tries to invest in young men’s lives and help young men grow. He cares very deeply about that. And that’s one of the reasons I’m so close to him and why I’m proud of him.”

Tebow said he is focused on controlling only what he can control.

Two questions focused on Tebow’s faith, a well-documented aspect of his life.

Tebow, the youngest of five, was raised on a farm in Jacksonville, Fla., where he was home-schooled. He had no television at home, spending most of his time playing sports and studying the Bible.

He often inscribes Bible verses on the eye black he wears for games.

“[My faith] plays a part in everything that I do in life, everything that I have to handle,” Tebow said. “It’s not only a part of me, it’s who I am.”

After practice on Friday, fans chanted Tebow’s name, hoping for autographs.

Tebow said he was looking forward to a good workout in the weight room and meetings. “And maybe eat a little food in between,” he said.

Tebow thanked reporters with a smile. And with that, his eight minutes in the spotlight were over.

Emily Kaplan can be reached at emily.kaplan@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilymkaplan.
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