Tebow takes more reps as No. 3 QB after Broncos cut Brandstater

Tim Tebow received a sizable share of the snaps in passing camp Friday.

Just don't read too much into it. The Denver Broncos' rookie quarterback isn't being handed the keys to the offense.

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Not yet.

With starting quarterback Kyle Orton receiving the day off and third-stringer Tom Brandstater being released Friday morning, Tebow and Brady Quinn were the only signal-callers on the field.

Tebow definitely appreciated the extra work, looking sharp on out routes and a little shaky with throws across the middle. That inconsistency comes with being a rookie, he insisted.

"Got to continue to play faster," the former University of Florida standout said. "Faster in my head, faster with my feet. When you do that, you're up to the speed of the defense and you can play at that level."

Make no mistake, Tebow still is behind Orton and Quinn. But Tebow was promoted to third string with the departure of Brandstater, a 2009 sixth-round draft pick who served as the No. 3 quarterback all last season and didn't play in a regular-season game.

The writing might have been on the wall for Brandstater once the Broncos drafted Tebow with the 25th overall pick in the April draft. Yet Broncos coach Josh McDaniels elected to wait until now -- to see how Tebow looked, to assess what he brought to the field -- before cutting ties with Brandstater.

"I thought this day would come at some point where we would eventually end up going down to three," McDaniels said. "Tom is going to go somewhere else and have an opportunity to make a career for himself. It certainly is nothing that he did that was negative or bad. ... We've got three guys that are a better fit than he is."

Brandstater didn't harbor any ill will toward his former team following his release.

"I'm learning as you go you can't worry about things you can't control," Brandstater told The Denver Post. "I've enjoyed my time in Denver. The people were great, the fans were great, they've got a good team coming up. I will still be rooting for them, hopefully (while I'm) with another team."

Like Tebow, Quinn benefited from the extra repetitions Friday, especially with Orton sitting out, along with almost every other starter from a year ago.

Quinn was acquired from the Cleveland Browns during the offseason and needs to brush up on the Broncos' offense in order to challenge Orton, who's quite familiar with McDaniels' intricate system.

"Just more opportunities to go out there and see things and mentally go through things," Quinn said. "I think that's the biggest thing right now is mentally getting work in and locked in on the things we need to be doing."

The Broncos had their new receiver on the field Friday as first-round pick Demaryius Thomas participated in some of the drills. The wideout from Georgia Tech has been out since breaking his left foot in drills leading up to the NFL Scouting Combine.

"To see him out here was a great sign," Tebow said. "We had a good time."

Thomas' head was swimming with so many different routes to digest. He didn't have this many plays with the Yellow Jackets, and he estimated that he had just three in the triple-option offense.

"It's just different," Thomas conceded. "I'm just trying to come out here to learn some stuff."

Welcome to Tebow's world. That's his mission as well.

With Broncos owner Pat Bowlen watching practice from the sideline, Tebow made one crisp pass after another in a red-zone drill. Granted, there wasn't any pressure coming from the defense and the cornerbacks were backing off the receivers, but it was a confidence boost anyway.

"You're trying to do everything right and thinking about everything," Tebow said. "Am I doing this right? What's he doing? How am I going to do this? Sometimes it's just reacting and playing and knowing your assignment."

There was one pass Tebow would like to have back -- a crossing route that he threw to rookie wide receiver Patrick Honeycutt of Middle Tennessee State.

"Low," Tebow explained, shaking his head.

Was it the pass that cornerback Alphonso Smith picked off with a circus grab?

"He might have. Yeah. Thanks for reminding me," Tebow said, grinning.

Just part of the improvement process.

"Tim is progressing," McDaniels said. "There's certainly a bunch of good plays and then there's other ones that we've got to work hard to get him right. That's what we're doing. That's what he's doing."

The Broncos made two other roster moves Friday, signing veteran fullback Kyle Eckel and releasing offensive lineman Maurice Williams.

Eckel played in seven games for the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints last season. He has 59 carries for 175 yards and two touchdowns in four NFL seasons, also with the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles.

Williams signed with the Broncos last month after spending his first nine NFL seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Of Williams' 100 career starts, 86 have come at right tackle, 12 at right guard and two at left tackle.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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