Broncos not starting Tim Tebow yet

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Sorry, Tebowmaniacs.

Josh McDaniels indicated Monday that he's not inclined to hand his offense over to enormously popular but raw rookie quarterback Tim Tebow even though the Denver Broncos (3-9) are headed nowhere.

"Well, I think Kyle Orton's had a good year," McDaniels said.

Orton is having a career year, in fact.

After being rewarded with an $8.8 million extension for 2011 in training camp, he's thrown for 3,487 yards and 20 touchdowns against just six interceptions, keeping Tebow on the sideline save for a goal line play here and there.

Orton, however, is coming off his worst game in his two seasons with the Broncos, completing just 9 of 28 passes for 117 yards in Denver's 10-6 loss at Kansas City on Sunday that eliminated them from the playoff race.

So, why not give Tebow some more snaps and maybe even a start to gain some experience?

Winning remains priority No. 1, McDaniels said.

After all, he's probably fighting for his own job after team owner Pat Bowlen said last week "we will continue to monitor the progress of the team and evaluate what's in the best interest of this franchise."

McDaniels' job appears to be in jeopardy because of a 5-17 skid, mistakes in personnel decisions and the videotaping violation that drew fines and a rebuke from the NFL.

McDaniels made the most stunning move of the draft when he traded away three picks to select Tebow 25th overall in April.

Tebow spent the offseason tweaking his throwing motion and working on his footwork so he could morph from a combination college quarterback into a prototypical pro passer, a process that's going to take time.

Although he's made some progress, Tebow has only taken a couple of dozen snaps this season, running for three short scores and throwing a 3-yard TD strike in his only NFL pass so far.

With the Broncos missing out on the playoffs for the fifth straight season, McDaniels said his top priority is to win, not to get young players some experience.

"Certainly, people can make a case for experience being helpful. I think that good experience is always better than just experience," McDaniels said. "So in that regard, I think that the players that have earned that right to play in games at this point and time in the season or have progressed during the course of the year [will play]."

He mentioned rookie receiver Eric Decker as an example. After being either inactive or playing on special teams for the first three months, Decker has caught three passes for 76 yards over the last two games.

"I think he really has just gotten better and better every week and I think that he has found a niche here and he's created a role for himself, and so that experience is great for him," McDaniels said.

McDaniels said there's an added degree of difficultly when talking about quarterbacks because of the scarcity of snaps the backups get during the week when the game plan is put into place.

"I think you also factor in the fact that a lot of these guys haven't played in a game in a long time. I'm talking about a real game where they've been in the flow and played a number of snaps," McDaniels said. "I mean, it's easy to say that experience is great for them, but there's a team to think about here, too."

Last week, Tebow said he's keeping his head up and working as doggedly as ever as his rookie season winds down with a paucity of plays one year after winding up his celebrated college career, which featured a Heisman Trophy and two national titles.

"My No. 1 job here is to be a leader, have a great attitude and be a supporter of whatever goes on and the coaches," Tebow said. "Whatever my role is, or whatever I'm asked to do, I try to do that to the best of my ability, and if that's out there playing or being a leader on the sidelines or being a good scout team quarterback, I'm going to do that and put all my heart into it."

Tebow said he doesn't pay attention to fans or the media calling for him to get his first NFL start.

"If I worry about that, it's only going to bring me down and weigh more on me," he said.

Tebow said he's learned a lot since training camp and has a better grasp of McDaniels' intricate offense.

"I can play a lot faster," he said. "And there's also some things I haven't done with live reps, either, just because in practice you're not getting a lot of those. So, it's just mental."

He's spent his weeks running the scout team, imitating Matt Cassel and Philip Rivers, among others.

But what about bona fide snaps? Does he expect to get more of them as the season winds down?

"I don't know. I'm just going to come in, keep learning, keep competing and try to do the best I can in practice," Tebow said. "I love playing the game of football and if I get that opportunity, I'll be excited. If not, I'll support the team the best I can."

Also Monday, the Broncos placed linebacker Joe Mays and tight end Dan Gronkowski on injured reserve.

Mays blew out his left knee and Gronkowski injured his left ankle in the Broncos' 10-6 loss at Kansas City on Sunday. Gronkowski went back into the game after getting hurt.

Mays, acquired from Philadelphia during training camp, had given the Broncos a toughness at middle linebacker in the last month, collecting 23 tackles over the last four games and allowing Mario Haggan to move to outside linebacker, where he's put up a team-high five sacks.

Gronkowski, picked up from Detroit this year, had eight catches for 65 yards.

Their roster spots weren't immediately filled.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.