ENGLEWOOD, Colo. » The debate over whether Tim Tebow is ready for this might just be moot.
Tebow is getting more snaps at practice with starter Kyle Orton nursing bruised ribs and the rookie might even get his first extended action of the season — if not his first start — when the Denver Broncos visit Oakland this weekend.
Offensive coordinator Mike McCoy said he thought Orton would be ready by Sunday, but some of his teammates weren’t so sure.
Deep threat Brandon Lloyd suggested Tebow Time is close at hand.
"It’s something that’s going to happen. It’s unfortunate that Kyle is banged up now. But Tebow playing is inevitable and so it’s better now than maybe the last game of the season," Lloyd said. "I think it will be good for him and be good to ease the fans’ minds. It will be good to ease all the players’ minds of how well he can play in game-time situations."
Lloyd has been adamant in his support of Orton finishing out the season in the face of fans clamoring for Tebow to get a crack at running Denver’s offense, but now he seems resigned to helping Tebow get through this.
After missing all of Wednesday’s workout, Orton ran gingerly and slowly tossed a couple of 5-yard throws to a staffer at the beginning of yesterday’s practice but otherwise didn’t participate in the few drills the media were allowed to watch.
Tebow took the bulk of the snaps in his absence with third quarterback Brady Quinn also getting some work.
Tebow has made only cameo appearances this season and thrown just one NFL pass since former coach Josh McDaniels selected him in the first round of the draft in April following his much-celebrated career at Florida, where he won two national titles and a Heisman Trophy.
Tebow still has a long way to go in morphing from a college quarterback who ran the ball as much as he threw it into a prototypical pro passer.
McDaniels was fired Dec. 6 with the Broncos (3-10) in the midst of their worst slide in four decades and the Spygate II videotape scandal.
Interim coach Eric Studesville insisted this week that Orton is still his starter but acknowledged that the quarterback situation was unsettled with Orton’s status in limbo.