FOXBOROUGH – A year ago, Darrelle Revis and Tim Tebow were teammates with the New York Jets. Revis was considered the best cornerback in the NFL, and Tebow was trying to prove he can play quarterback in the league.
Much has changed.
Revis and Tebow are adapting to life with different teams, but share the same mindset. The two were brought together Tuesday when the Buccaneers and Patriots held the first of three joint practices before their preseason game Friday.
Revis played six seasons with New York before being traded to Tampa Bay and signing a six-year, $96 million contract. He has practiced lightly in his return from a knee injury that cost him most of last season.
Acquired by New England in June, Tebow is simply trying to make the roster. He is confident his old teammate can come back strong.
"I hope he comes back and he's strong and fast and can be the player that he was, and I believe that he will," Tebow said. "Just being around him for a little while, I understand his work ethic and how much he loves this game, how much he puts into it, and it was a pleasure for me to be around him for a little while in New York and I know he'll be a great player at the end."
Revis suited up for position drills early in Tuesday's practice, but didn't participate in any seven-on-seven or 11-on-11 team activities. The highest-paid defensive back in NFL history downplayed the speculation he will be ready for Tampa Bay's third preseason game Aug. 24 at Miami.
"I'm going to still say it's too soon," Revis said with a wide grin. "Just going out here doing one-on-ones off to the side, just getting that pop back in my left leg and driving back to the ball on routes, I think that's the key and that's what we've been seeing the improvement each day."
Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano is looking much further down the road, saying preseason reps are not a guarantee.
"The reality is he's a veteran guy who knows what he can do. He's coming off a knee injury. He's never had that," he said. "If we're going to err at all, we're going to err on the side of caution. He doesn't need to play in the preseason to play in the opening game.
"This a long-term thing. This is a guy that we plan on having to be a Buc for a lot of years and make sure that we do everything we can to make sure he's ready when he steps foot on that field."
Tebow, meanwhile, stepped between the lines a bit earlier than expected during the Patriots preseason opener Friday night in Philadelphia.
Called upon in the second quarter when backup Ryan Mallett left the game with a head injury, Tebow completed 4 of 12 passes for 55 yards and rushed four times for 31 yards.
"Some things were good, some things you've got to work on," Tebow said. "I think when you're called in at a time like that, one of the toughest things is just physically getting loose and being ready to go physically because you're just standing there for a while."
New England coach Bill Belichick admitted Tuesday that Tebow has improved, but also said most other players in camp have, too.
"Just trying to work hard every day, improve," Tebow said. "Every time you get a rep, learn from it, and when you don't, trying to get mental reps. You're watching a great one out there, so you've got to get a lot of mental reps."
Learning from two-time league MVP Tom Brady has played a vital role in Tebow's development and adaptation to the playbook.
"Being able to watch a great one every day, be around him" has helped, Tebow said. "Obviously learning as we go, but feeling more comfortable every day."
So while Tebow is preparing behind one of the best in the league, Revis is hoping to regain his status as the best.
"You always want to be the best. Everybody's got their own opinions. You just go with what you know best. I just know how to play ball, and I know how to play it at a high level," Revis said. "The Richard Sherman-type stuff, the Champ Bailey's, that's going to be tops throughout the whole season, and you just go with it.
"You just play great ball and just try to help your team win at the end of the day."