Riley Cooper and Tim Tebow won two BCS National Championships together at the University of Florida. (AP)
It’s fitting that Tim Tebow was on hand for Riley Cooper’s return to practice on Tuesday.
Cooper and Tebow were roommates at the University of Florida, and the two have a friendship that can be traced back to their days in Gainesville. While at Florida, the two won BCS National Championships during the 2006 and 2008 seasons, and hooked up 51 times for 961 yards and nine touchdowns during their senior year.
Naturally, questions have abounded regarding Tebow’s communication with Cooper since a video emerged of the Eagles’ wide receiver blurting out a racial epithet back in June.
“You know we’re friends,” Tebow said after the joint practice between the Eagles and Patriots. “We’ve been close for a long time, so we’ll talk.”
“I haven’t gotten to see him yet today. I’m sure I’ll see him soon, but I was definitely praying for him.”
With a friendship that dates back to 2006, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Tebow didn’t want to divulge much information about how Cooper acts off the field.
When asked if he was surprised to hear Cooper make such a remark, Tebow simply smiled and remained silent.
“I’m just going to keep our relationship private and that’s where I think it needs to be,” Tebow said.
What Tebow did want to discuss was his role with the Patriots.
Signed on June 10 to a two-year deal that contains no guaranteed money, Tebow is fighting an uphill battle to secure a roster spot.
Unlike last season when he was battling for a starting job with the Jets, Tebow now finds himself slotted behind Ryan Mallett and Tom Brady on the Pats’ depth chart.
So is Tebow comfortable with his new role?
“It’s been great, I’ve enjoyed it," Tebow said. “It’s been a lot of fun. Meetings have been great, working with one of the best to ever play the game has been awesome, and being able to watch and learn from him has been awesome.”
Tebow also admitted that he’s become more comfortable with the Patriots' offense over the last two months.
“Yeah, every day, every meeting, learning more, understanding more and just trying to gain ground with the offense and everything I’m working on.”
With shaky passing mechanics, Tebow isn’t viewed as a prototypical drop-back passer, and those who were in attendance on Tuesday would agree with that sentiment.
When under center during one-on-one drills between Patriots wide receivers and Eagles defensive backs, Tebow completed six of 12 passes, according to CSNPhilly.com’s unofficial tally, including an interception thrown straight into the hands of former Patriot Patrick Chung.
With Brady receiving the lion’s share of the reps, Tebow didn’t have a chance to redeem himself.
He will get that chance on Friday when the Patriots and Eagles square off at Lincoln Financial Field in their first preseason game.
With starters typically only playing a series or two in the first preseason game, Tebow figures to be given a chance to show that he can contribute.
“It’ll be great," Tebow said. "Games are always fun and you just gotta keep preparing ‘till that moment."