By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Friday, December 17th, 2010 at 1:24 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Putting Friday’s news into Christmas carol form:
It’s beginning to look a lot like Tebow . . .
Tim Tebow, the most publicized No. 25 overall draft pick in NFL history, is expected to play a considerable amount Sunday against the Raiders at the Coliseum. He might even start.
With Kyle Orton failing to throw a pass all week, either because of sore ribs or a feeling within the Denver organization that it’s time to see what Tebow has now that the season is lost with a 3-10 record, coach Tom Cable’s tone changed Friday.
Cable not only thinks he’ll see Tebow running some “Wildcat’’ formations, but as a more conventional quarterback as well.
“If he’s going to play as much as I think he is, he’s going to have to play like a regular quarterback in a regular offense,’’ Cable said.
Two days ago, Cable thought Orton would get the majority of the work.
“I think he gives them the best chance to win,’’ Cable said. “ I think that’s pretty clear, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see Tim some.’’
The Raiders have studied up on Tebow in the preseason and on his limited use in the regular season He’s completed his only pass for three yards and a touchdown and has 12 rushes for 28 yards and three touchdowns.
While the coaching staff had broken down Tebow in terms of strengths and weaknesses, second-year wide receiver Louis Murphy has the best insight into his heart.
“I know that he’s a fighter, I know that he has a passion for the game,’’ Murphy said. “I haven’t seen him practice or anything. I know that he’s going to come out and fight until the last minute.’’
At Florida, Tebow’s leadership skills took on an almost mythic quality.
Murphy said Tebow go this feeling across in a way that enhanced team chemistry, a lot of positive reinforcement combined with well-timed reminders of responsibilities and the occasional request to pick up the pace.
In Murphy’s last year at Florida, following a 31-30 loss to Mississippi, Tebow took the podium and made a tearful pledge that the Gators would not lose again.
“You will never see another player push his team as hard as I will push everybody the rest of the season,’’ Tebow said. “You will never see a team play harder than we will the rest of the season.”
The Gators didn’t lose again and went on to win the national championship.
“We all fell in behind him, but I felt at that time that the entire team felt that way,’’ Murphy said. “He’s the spokesperson of the team, he’s the quarterback, the leader of the team. Just to see him come out and publicly say it meant a lot to the guys on the team and everyone else.
“We knew we had one goal, and that was to win the national championship. With him coming out, stepping up and saying nobody would outperform us and outplay us and he wouldn’t mess up, it made us raise our level up.”
Murphy says there’s a comparison to be made with how he felt the day of the Mississippi loss and how the Raiders felt following last week’s 38-31 loss to Jacksonville.
“Right now we know – it’s the same situation,’’ Murphy said. “Our backs were against the wall then. Our backs are against the wall now, and I feel that the team is taking the same approach to this game.
“We’re going to go out, we’re going to fight our way, no matter what happens, no matter if they get up, get down, we’re going to go out fighting.”
More Friday news and notes:
– Middle linebacker Rolando McClain (foot) did not practice, was listed as questionable and will be a game time decision.
Those who were limited in practice and listed as questionable were cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha (ankle), wide receiver Johnnie Lee Higgins (ankle), wide receiver Nick Miller (ankle). Those who participated fully and are listed as probable are tackle Khalif Barnes (back), tight end Zach Miller (foot), defensive tackle Richard Seymour (knee), cornerback Chris Johnson (groin), quarterback Kyle Boller (quad), safety Tyvon Branch (shoulder) and linebacker Travis Goethel (knee).
–The decision on whether Higgins or Nick Miller will return punts will be made on game day and ball security will be stressed on a rainy day.
“I think you want to be smart back there and we’re going to coach that up,’’ Cable said. “The most important thing, and we’re going to coach that up, is to possess the ball for your team.’’
– The Raiders and all other NFL teams have been given guidelines for sideline decorum after Jets strength coach Sal Alosi tripped the Dolphins Nolan Carroll this week.
“I am as surprised by it as anybody,” Cable said of the Jets’ offense. “There is no place for it or reason for it. Totally surprised.”