Tim Tebow warmed up before the Patriots' game in Detroit. (Paul Sancya / AP) Tim Tebow warmed up before the Patriots’ game in Detroit. (Paul Sancya / AP)

Tim Tebow couldn’t get near the field, even late in the New England Patriots’ game Thursday night against the Detroit Lions.

The Patriots were struggling and it was the third preseason game, typically good reasons to leave the A team in. But there’s also no denying that Tebow is not progressing with the Patriots. After his poor performance a week ago, Tebow has a 17.7 passer rating with a 26.6-percent completion rate over two games and his chances of making the Patriots’ 53-man roster would seem to be dimming, unless Bill Belichick has a trick up his frayed sleeve.

“You just prepare, and what you are asked to do, you do it 100 percent with everything you have,” he said (via the Boston Globe). “You want everything to go well, but it’s not. There are going to be ups and downs. That’s what life is, and you’ve just got to handle them as best as you possibly can.”

Tebow’s future beyond the Patriots may be limited, though. He wasn’t eagerly sought when the New York Jets released him and the Patriots seemed more curious about what he could do than anything. And now “what he can do” may be an issue. Scouts tell Mike Freeman of the Bleacher Report that they’re surprised by how quickly he has lost the edge he had at Florida.

“That lack of speed is evident in three critical phases of Tebow’s game: His throwing motion, his mental acuity and his ability to avoid tacklers,” Freeman writes. “It’s not simply that he can’t do these things now. We knew that. What’s stunning, upon closer examination, is the rapidity with which these skills have been lost.”

Belichick was typically tight-lipped when asked why only Tom Brady and Ryan Mallett played Thursday. That likely means that Tebow has one last shot at getting a roster spot when the Patriots play the New York Giants next Thursday in the last preseason game, the one in which starters rarely play. First, though, Tebow must survive initial cuts Tuesday, when the Patriots must reduce the roster from 84 players to 75. He’ll probably get past that because someone has to play QB on Thursday. After that, the next big date on his calendar is Aug. 31, when rosters must be cut to 53.

In one respect, he remains what he always has been: a fan magnet. Detroit fans were chanting his name late in the game, as Belichick kept sending in Mallett.

“I try not to pay attention,” Tebow said. “Obviously it was nice whenever you have support, but you just try to stay focused.”

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