The calls from the 303 area code began to pop up not long after the Eagles signed Tim Tebow this spring. Radio stations wanted to know how Philadelphia was handling Tebowmania. Colleagues from other newspapers and websites wanted to grasp the enormity of the media blitz that was certainly engulfing the Eagles beat.

Kinda quiet, actually, they were told, and this really disappointed them. Denver in 2010 and 2011 was ground zero for one of the most divisive quarterback controversies in recent memory. Could Tebow play in the NFL? Was he the prototype for a new kind of option quarterback in the league? What's with the genuflecting?

It was a big deal in Denver, and a sort of big deal in New York when he went to the Jets for the 2012 season, but that hasn't been the case in Philadelphia. There are a couple of reasons for that, of course.

The first is that he isn't competing to be the starting quarterback. He's merely competing to beat out Matt Barkley as the third-stringer. The second is that when your team took on a quarterback not that long ago who just stepped out of Leavenworth for killing puppy dogs, then it's not quite as big a deal to have a guy who is merely saving himself for marriage.

You want uproar? We've seen uproar.

But, relatively quiet though it has been, that might be about to change on Sunday when Tebow is expected to play roughly half of the opening exhibition game against the Indianapolis Colts. Projected starter Sam Bradford is being bubble-wrapped by Chip Kelly. Mark Sanchez will be in the game for only eight to 10 snaps. That leaves a great expanse of the game to be split between Tebow and Barkley.

It might be that expectations (or mere interest) will be further tamped down if Tebow is only so-so on the field. His liability as an NFL quarterback has always been his arm - which is a pretty significant liability - and if he can't make the sideline throws with the necessary zip, or place the ball through a narrow window of traffic, then he would remain little more than a curiosity. Maybe he makes the team as a gadget guy or an occasional Wildcat option, someone to force defensive coordinators to add one more page to their weekly preparation, but mania would be out of the question.

Things could go another way as well, of course.

Yes, it's only the first preseason game, and, yes, the Colts will have their defensive first-teamers on the field for only a limited amount of time, but still. What if? What if Tebow is good?

During camp, he hasn't thrown the ball as well as Bradford, obviously, but neither has anyone else. Tebow worked on his mechanics and his motion before being signed by the Eagles, and it shows. He has delivered a pretty decent ball during practices, and he brings a physical ability that none of the others have, particularly if you believe Kelly truly wants to see whether read-option can work in the NFL.

"[In practice], I can see Tim zone-reading something, pulling it, and then the whistle sort of gets blown here, and he might run a guy over [had the whistle not blown], so you never know," offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said. "We could run a naked [bootleg] and get out on the perimeter, a guy hanging off him and making a throw. You know. All that stuff where you say, 'Wow, that was a really terrific athletic play.' "

He still isn't competing to be anything except a roster player at this point, but a good performance against the Colts could seal his place on that roster. After that, well, it's fair to say that the possibility of Bradford suffering a physical setback and Sanchez being inconsistent or turnover-prone isn't the longest exacta shot on the board.

"Obviously, I'll have to calm my nerves down. I'll be pumped up to be out there, very excited," Tebow said after practice Friday. "I'm excited to experience [the offense]. I've watched it for so long, when Chip was at Oregon and since he's been here. I'm really excited to be a part of it."

More than Kelly's other quarterbacks here, past or present, Tebow has the mobility to explore all the facets of the offense, and it's almost a given that he will look good doing that part of it.

"If it's there and it's the right read, I'll pull it and try to make the right play," Tebow said. "But you're trying to make the right play, not force it."

As for the rest, maybe Tebow still won't be good enough and the tide of mania will subside before it can crest. The lack of arm strength and the history of spotty decision-making might become all too apparent once he trades in a red practice jersey and works against a real opponent.

Still, as the game approaches and the possibility of what might be remains alive, there is that chance, even if just a slim chance, that things are about to change around here.

If so, I expect the phone to start ringing again.

@bobfordsports