Patriots

Rob Ninkovich had a blunt assessment of Tim Tebow’s comeback attempt as a tight end

"If you get blocked by Tim Tebow, it's going to be an issue."

Tim Tebow after being sacked by Rob Ninkovich during a 2011 Patriots win over the Broncos. Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff

Tim Tebow is reportedly set to sign with the Jaguars as a tight end after not playing in an NFL game for nine years. Predictably, the reaction to the news has been largely skeptical.

One of those voicing doubts about the viability of the 33-year-old Tebow returning to football at the highest level as a tight end was former Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich.

Speaking on ESPN during a Wednesday morning segment, Ninkovich (now an ESPN analyst) gave his point of view on Tebow from a defensive perspective.

“Listen, if it’s 4th and 1 and I see Tim Tebow come in as a tight end to block me, [no] I’m eating that thing up,” Ninkovich joked.

“At the end of the day, a quarterback does not want to line up at tight end,” Ninkovich continued, noting Tebow’s original position. “You talk about a [defensive back] or a linebacker covering him in a route, imagine if you’re a [defensive] end?”

Tebow never caught a pass at either the college of professional levels, and faces an uphill battle to switch positions following such a long period away from football.

But as Ninkovich pointed out, Tebow will also face a different type of psychological challenge.

“That’s not going to scare me, I’m not nervous,” Ninkovich said of the scenario in which he saw a former quarterback lining up against him at tight end. “I’m not worried about that.”

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“You’re going against a tight end on a Wednesday in practice and he’s like the third string guy. Yeah he might get you a little bit and you’re like, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah.’ If it’s Tim Tebow? You better make sure that quarterback never gets you,” Ninkovich explained. “So every single player that goes against Tim Tebow is going to make sure that Tim Tebow does not block them. Because you’re going to be judged on that. Guys watch tape, they watch practice, they watch one-on-ones, and if you get blocked by Tim Tebow, it’s going to be an issue. You better believe people are going to strap up and get ready to get after Tim Tebow if he’s a tight end.”

Newly installed Jaguars coach Urban Meyer — who coached Tebow to two national championships while both were at the University of Florida — told Chris Collinsworth on Tuesday that Jacksonville has not yet formally decided to sign Tebow.

Still, it’s clear that Meyer has been impressed by what his scouts have told him.

“They came in and they said, ‘Wow. This guy’s ball skills. He’s a great athlete. He looks like he’s 18 years old not whatever he is, 33,’” said Meyer. “And I said, ‘Guys, you don’t understand, now. This guy is, he’s the most competitive maniac you’re ever gonna talk to.’ And let’s give it a shot. And I have not decided if we’re gonna do that or not yet. Getting close. I gotta make a decision here pretty soon.”

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