PHILADELPHIA - Tim Tebow is used to being the center of the storm, although it figures to happen a lot less now that he’s a Patriot rather than a Bronco or Jet. But who could’ve foreseen, a few months back, the media swarming around Tebow following Tuesday's joint Patriots-Eagles practice wouldn’t be so much interested in his life as a third string QB as that of his former Florida Gators roommate?
That would be a guy few had heard of until last week, Eagles receiver Riley Cooper, who brought a firestorm of controversy when he was caught on camera uttering a racial slur. The 25-year-old Cooper returned to his team following a four-day leave for sensitivity training and counseling and played well during the workout, catching touchdown passes from Michael Vick and Nick Foles.
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Meanwhile, Tebow who took limited snaps, clearly wasn’t comfortable discussing their relationship under Urban Meyer.
"Riley’s a good friend of mine," said Tebow, who figures to see some action after Tom Brady and backup Ryan Mallett play Friday (7:30 p.m., WBZ-4). "I haven’t gotten to see him yet.
"I’d rather keep our relationship between us and focus on football. I’m just trying to get better each day."
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Bill Belichick says the decision to bring the Patriots here has as much to do with convenience as his relationship with Chip Kelly, though he has nothing but respect for the Eagles rookie coach.
"Last year we did it twice with New Orleans and Tampa," said Belichick, who spoke before practice. "This year we’ll do it with Philly and Tampa. It's good for everybody. We've been working against ourselves for quite awhile now. Now we get a whole new set of faces and looks and things we don't know.
"I think this is as helpful for the coaching staff as it is for the young players, and I think the veteran players look forward to it as well. Anything to break up the monotony of camp, they're for."
His players seconded that.
"Anytime you get a chance to hit someone else instead of your own guys it’s fun," said new wideout Danny Amendola. "Everybody was flying around. Obviously you’re gonna be hitting more than in camp."
Those hits led to a couple of inevitable flare-ups, the highlight coming when Pats rookie receiver Aaron Dobson got into it with Eagles corner Cary Williams. Earlier Dobson, the second round pick from Marshall, made a one-handed catch of a Brady pass.
"He's done great," said Brady. "I’m proud of all of those young players for coming in – we've thrown a lot of stuff at them. I said the other day that it's not like we're backing off because that’s not the way our offense is.
"Everyone’s who’s out there is expected to go in there and execute at a pretty high level."
Other Patriots who stood out during the day included rookie tight end Zach Sudfeld, running backs LeGarrette Blount and Shane Vereen and cornerback Logan Ryan.