ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Fans wishing to see more of Tim Tebow might get more of the same instead.
Denver Broncos coach Josh McDaniels said Monday that he's not planning to use his raw rookie quarterback much differently than he did in his NFL debut Sunday, when the former University of Florida star was on the field for just three snaps in a 24-17 loss at Jacksonville.
The college football icon, who grew up in Jacksonville, entered on the third play and gained 1 yard on a quarterback keeper on first-and-10, something he did again in the second quarter after lining up once at wide receiver.
Even when Tebow did go in, starting quarterback Kyle Orton stayed on the field for Denver and called the plays that he received in his headset, and McDaniels said he'd like to keep it that way.
Although Orton said his rhythm wasn't affected by sharing a couple of snaps here and there, McDaniels downplayed the notion of a straight substitution of his starting quarterback and his first-round draft pick.
"I don't think I have any desire to do that with Kyle coming off the field, coming on the field, coming off," McDaniels said. "I don't think that's really something that we're looking to do much of. Like I said yesterday after the game, I think our quarterback played pretty well. I think he will play well. (I have) great confidence in his ability to execute what we're doing. And so we'd have to have something that would force us to make a decision like that and feel really good about it."
The prevailing wisdom entering this season was that McDaniels, who stunned the NFL by selecting Tebow with the 25th overall pick in the draft six months ago, would capitalize on the three-time All-American's pass-run option talents by using him in third-and-short or red-zone situations.
That didn't happen in the opener.
The Broncos feel so good about Orton's progress in his second year in this system -- and maybe equally cautious about Tebow's long road ahead -- that last month they rewarded their starter with a contract extension through 2011.
Orton was masterful Sunday until the fourth quarter, when he threw a fourth-down pass that Brandon Lloyd couldn't quite come down with in the end zone, then got picked off on his final drive in the closing seconds.
McDaniels said he would have used Tebow more had his carries been more productive.
"It was just a portion of the game plan that we wanted to go ahead and put in there," the coach said. "If it gave us some benefits, great. We threw a pass or two out of it, completed them. A couple of runs, didn't do much with those. And, again, going into the game, we didn't have it as a significant portion of what we were going to do, we'd just see how it affected them, and if it gave us some positive plays, we stay in it longer, and if it didn't, we didn't."
The Jaguars weren't fooled at all, and both times Tebow took the snap, he didn't run over linebackers like he did in college but was hammered at the line of scrimmage.
Tebow's first run was stuffed by defensive tackle Tyson Alualu, the Jaguars' first-round draft pick and the target of many a Tebowmaniac's ire in Florida because so many Jacksonville fans believed taking their hometown hero would have been a wiser choice for a franchise that struggles to sell out games.
McDaniels is taking some heat for inserting Tebow into the drives he chose because both times Tebow took the snap, the Broncos had just made big plays. Both drives later stalled.
Orton said Tebow's presence didn't affect his rhythm, suggesting he could sit in the stands for a play, come back and keep right on rolling.
And after Tebow's first run, Orton completed a 13-yard pass. After his second, a 6-yarder.
Notably, Orton's five pass plays of 25 yards or more were the most of any quarterback Sunday. They included passes that went 36, 27 and 27 yards in the air -- in stark contrast to last season, when two bum ankles altered his mechanics and prevented him from properly stepping into his throws, which prevented McDaniels from calling many deep passes.
McDaniels said it's not just a matter of health but also of habit, with Orton having worked more with speedsters Lloyd, Eddie Royal and Jabar Gaffney this spring and summer.
But the Broncos no longer have Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall to create matchup problems once they get inside the 20, and top draft pick Demaryius Thomas, who packs 229 pounds on his 6-foot-3 frame, was inactive Sunday after missing most of camp with a foot injury.
Orton was 1-of-4 passing in the red zone with an 8-yard TD toss to Gaffney, all with Tebow watching attentively from the sideline.
Tebow was pleased if hardly satisfied with his first taste of the NFL.
"To go out there and run on the field a few times and get a few plays was fun," he said. "It was a learning opportunity for me, an opportunity to get better."
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press