Meyer: Tebow Rusty, but Happy to be Back

The Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow finally returned to practice Tuesday. After missing every practice since suffering a concussion against Kentucky on Sept. 26, Tebow was cleared to begin participating in practices. Doctors still have yet to clear him to play in the game Saturday against LSU in Baton Rouge.

(Meyer Audio Clip) -

A panel of 15 experts had to come to a decision Tuesday before Tebow was allowed to get back on the field.

"Tim practiced, and we had Dr. (Patrick) Jacobs, Dr. (Bayard) Miller from here at Shands and Dr. (Mickey) Collins from Pittsburgh, who is very well-respected nationally dealing with these types of injuries," Meyer said.

He will not participate in any hitting drills this week, but it was another step closer to determining if he will be available Saturday. In his first practice back, he wasn't his usual sharp self.

"He didn't do full, obviously no contact, but this time of year, it's not really full contact days. Today was a good day though. I would say for about 80 percent of practice. He did well, a little rusty, not much anything other than he hasn't done football for a week."

There will be no urgency to give Tebow experience in practice taking hits to see how he feels. Instead, the training staff will use other methods to see how he responds to getting hit.

"Dr. Collins said if it was a linebacker he would like to see him go through some contact," Meyer said. "Obviously we aren't going to do that. We don't do that with quarterbacks, but there are ways of doing some drill work where it is a little contact to his chest."

The process to getting back on the field started last week with rest and not doing anything that required a lot of focus such as watching TV or reading. The last couple days things begin to progress for him though.

"The last two days he did conditioning and treadmill type stuff," Meyer said.

This doesn't mean he is likely to play though. He still must show he can go through these rigorous activities and not show signs of a concussion.

"If symptoms show up, that will delay it," Meyer said.

It is still unclear when a final decision will be made about whether Tebow will play. Meyer doesn't expect that to come for a couple of days.

"They are discussing (the time frame of when to decide if Tebow should play) right now. That is ongoing though," Meyer said. I am going to go in there and ask that because a lot of it is game-planning and who's your second and who's your third, but I think that won't be decided until later this week until they see how he progresses."

The training staff will continue to rely on baseline tests done prior to the season to determine if Tebow is ready to play.

"The baseline test was created about 10 years ago, and before that, it was basically just smelling salts and ‘How many fingers do I have up?'" Meyer said. "Now there is a baseline and what the baseline is is when they first get here they do a baseline test and then they do a post-injury test, and that's how they evaluate if you are ready to go."

Meyer will have to weigh his options even if Tebow is cleared. He doesn't want to chance damaging Tebow any further, and he wants to make sure having him on the field is the best thing for the team.

"There are two issues and that is the safety of Tim Tebow and obviously the football team," Meyer said.

In the meantime, Tebow was practicing and Meyer was pleased with what he saw from him despite the rust, commenting on how much he did during the practice.

"We had seven-on-seven, we had team, we had scout work," Meyer said. "It was a two hour practice, and he did it all,"

This also doesn't mean they are not keeping backup John Brantley ready to go in case Tebow is unable to play. The two quarterbacks are splitting reps in practices.

"It was probably about 50-50. Team versus defense we didn't let him go, so Johnny took most of those," Meyer said. "I grabbed (Brantley) before practice and told him, ‘Prepare like you're going to play the game.'"

For now, it is still up in the air which one will play against LSU, but Tebow was just happy to be back on the field.

Meyer described the quarterback's reaction to being told he would be allowed to participate again.

"He had a big smile on his face like you can imagine Tim," Meyer said "He was very anxious to get going. He told us after his workout two days ago — because it was the first time he broke a sweat — how good he felt."

If Tebow can play, Meyer said he is unsure just yet what the game plan will be heading in. It is something that will not be decided on for a few days.

"I don't know how you (keep him out of harm's ways) especially with the team we are play," Meyer said. "I spoke briefly with Steve (Addazio) about that, but we are so knee deep with preparation, so the nest two days we will be discussing that."

- DT Lawrence Marsh (ankle) was also back at practice, but he is not full speed. "He practiced about half practice today, so I want to push him."

-DT Brandon Antwine is expected to return to practice tomorrow after being slowed by a shoulder injury. "I think (Antwine) is going to go tomorrow. He was limited today in individuals."

- WR Deonte Thompson continues to improve and is starting to look ready to play Saturday. "Deonte had a really good practice today It was good to see him. Yesterday he had a scar tissue issue where he pulled up a little bit, but today he felt like Deonte Thompson, looked like him too."

- Moses Jenkins who also suffered a concussion at Kentucky is further behind in the recovery than Tebow. "Moses (Jenkins) is way behind. He did not practice today."

- FB Steven Wilks was another player to return to practice after missing significant time. "Stevie Wilks was back for the first time since his ACL injury."

- CB Jeremy Brown and WR Carl Moore are still working to return after having a procedure done on their backs preseason. "Jeremy Brown is out there running. He is getting close, and Carl Moore still has a ways to go."

- If Tebow cannot go, Meyer has discussed running some Wildcat plays. He named some players who he would run it with. "You've got Brandon James, Aaron Hernandez, Jeff Demps."

- S Dorian Munroe is almost ready to return after surgery on his knee right before the season. "Dorian Munroe is one week away."

- If WRs Frankie Hammond, Omarius Hines and T.J. Lawrence want to see time in the games, they will have to start proving in practice. "Make plays in practice, and they are getting better, getting close."

- The Gators need their receivers to step up because through the first four games the offense has had to rely on the run. Meyer said you have to be balance to win the big games, but he is panicked quite yet about his team's passing game. "We are a little unbalanced right now. I was talking to our staff about this and you look at the games we have been in especially the last two, and it's 31-0 after the first quarter so we're not going to coming out zinging it all over the place, and then when you have injuries and illness to our receivers."

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