ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – Tim Tebow is ready for the shots, both on the football field and in the locker room.
The two-time national champion from Florida practiced with other rookies Friday in advance of the start of the Denver Broncos' training camp and said he couldn't wait for the hard hits.
Tebow, the 25th pick in the NFL draft, is fresh off putting his signature on two contracts, one of them a five-year deal to play for the Broncos and the other a multiyear deal to serve as a pitchman for Jockey underwear.
Beyond the usual rookie ritual of carrying veterans' shoulder pads and maybe grabbing them a cup of coffee or a sandwich, Tebow knows he'll be catching a good amount of grief for his endorsement of the tighty whities.
"A few people have said a few things to me about it," Tebow said with a hearty chuckle. "Actually, Coach McDaniels was the first one to say something to me. But, you know, I'm sure I'll get some (more) of it, but it's all in good fun."
So, what did Josh McDaniels tell his prized pupil?
"I told him they passed on me for him," McDaniels cracked. "I turned it down."
Tebow said he was relieved to have a contract in hand so he could finally practice with the Broncos, who were still negotiating Friday with their other first-round draft pick, wide receiver Demaryius Thomas.
Tebow said it felt good to work up a sweat again during the one-hour workout at Dove Valley but what he was really looking forward to was getting hit again.
Although he'll don the red no-contact jersey along with starter Kyle Orton and Brady Quinn when camp starts Sunday, Tebow will get a taste of NFL hitting early on because the coaches are eager to see if they can have him run the ball like he did in college.
He won't be blasted by his own teammates; that kind of contact won't come until the preseason.
"It may be a negative of mine, that I look forward to that and I'm a quarterback, so you kind of have to stay calm," Tebow said. "But it is fun once Sunday gets out here and everybody is hitting. I'll get excited too."
If Tebow can do it, the Broncos could use a healthy dose this season of the wildcat, the newfangled version of the old-fashioned single-wing employed by several NFL teams, notably the Miami Dolphins.
In Denver, they call it the Wild Horse, and Tebow might even throw out of the funky formations.
McDaniels said he's never used a quarterback rotation before but would give it a shot if Tebow is up to the task.
"Certainly, people have speculated about how we may or may not use him in those roles, but since we haven't really done any of it in pads, I haven't had the opportunity to evaluate what that may do for our team," McDaniels said. "... There's going to be some things that he can obviously do that the other two can't in that regard. How much we do or don't do will depend on how productive we are at it."
At any rate, McDaniels appreciates Tebow's tough-mindedness.
"I think that's part of his demeanor. I think that is also part of what he brings to your football team," McDaniels said. "I think that may be a little unique in terms of the contact part of it."
Quarterbacks can give an offense a toughness by bouncing up after a big collision, McDaniels said, "and I know he's had an opportunity in college to do some of the other stuff where he actually is inflicting some of the hitting at the end of a run or something like that."
Tebow is generating the kind of buzz that John Elway did during his rookie season in 1983. Tebow isn't nearly as polished as Elway was coming out of Stanford and he's not only cramming the NFL playbook but he's been working tirelessly on tweaking his techniques and mechanics as he adjusts to the pro game.
While his detractors say he won't measure up in the NFL even if he was a great college player, Tebow's supporters, who include Elway, suggest his athleticism, work ethic and pedigree will translate into success.
McDaniels said he wasn't going to try to tamp down expectations for Tebow, who planned to work late Friday and rise early on Saturday to catch up on the practice plans he missed while his agent hammered out a contract worth $11.25 million over five years.
"What other peoples' expectations are of him or how much he'll play or contribute or compete to play early, I don't really know," McDaniels said. "I'm not that worried about it. I think if he's the best player at some point in some area, then he'll be able to affect the team."