|05-18-2005, 01:07 AM||#1|
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Arcadia, CA
Saunders article on the backup QB competition
Plummer's backup won't be snap decision
Kanell, three young QBs compete for job
By Patrick Saunders
Denver Post Staff Writer
Veteran quarterback Danny Kanell didn t take a snap for the Broncos last season as Jake Plummer s backup, but he has made 24 starts in the NFL. (Post / Kathryn Scott Osler)
The Broncos know Jake Plummer is their No. 1 quarterback. They're still searching for No. 2.
At the team's spring quarterback camp this week, four players have begun the process of trying to prove they are a capable backup to Plummer.
In the NFL, chances are a team will call on its backup quarterback. Last season, Plummer became the first Broncos quarterback to take every snap. Only he and New Orleans' Aaron Brooks took all the snaps for their teams.
"If you want to keep winning, you have to have a good backup in place, and one who fits your system," said Phil Simms, the former N.Y. Giants quarterback who is now an NFL analyst for CBS Sports.
Listed as the Broncos' backup is veteran Danny Kanell, but the position is unlikely to be settled until well into training camp this summer. His main competition probably will be second- year pro Matt Mauck. Former Colorado State star Bradlee Van Pelt and Chad Friehauf, a 6-foot-6 rookie who starred at Division II Colorado Mines, are hoping to get enough practice reps to impress the Denver coaching staff.
"What we are trying to do now is establish a pecking order," coach Mike Shanahan said. "Obviously Danny is the second-team quarterback. But he's got a lot of competition behind him, and we will find out as time goes on if he keeps that position."
The Broncos would love for Plummer to take every snap again, but odds are against that. He missed four games in 2003 because of foot and shoulder injuries.
"Really, you can look at the backup quarterback situation two ways," Simms said. "If you are a good team like the Broncos, one that went to the playoffs last year, then you have to have a quarterback who can come in and keep moving the team ahead.
"If you are a team like the San Francisco 49ers, you don't mind having a guy who is a little rough around the edges. He'll suffer and grow with the rest of the team."
The Broncos went shopping for a veteran backup during the offseason. Pro Bowl quarterback Jeff Garcia was tempted by Shanahan's Mile High invitation, but ended up in Detroit, where he is pushing Joey Harrington for the starting job.
Gus Frerotte, who spent 2000 and 2001 with the Broncos, came close to returning, but ended up in Miami, where he hopes to challenge for a starting job.
That leaves a group of quarterbacks with holes in their résumés. Although Kanell started 20 games for the Giants in the 1997 and 1998 seasons, he was out of the NFL in 2001 and 2002. No other backup quarterback on Denver's roster has played in a regular-season game.
Since Kanell's time with the Giants, he's made only four starts - two for the Atlanta Falcons and two for the Broncos.
In 2003, while battling the flu, he played poorly in Denver's 26-6 loss at Baltimore. The next week against New England, he played better in a 30-26 loss.
"I know there will be competition, but I feel like I'm the best person for the job," he said.
Mauck, who was the early talk of training camp last summer but ended up on the practice squad most of the season, said he has made huge strides since his rookie season.
"I can no longer say, 'This is my first time learning the system,"' Mauck said. "I should know everything by now. I hope to make my biggest improvement as a pro from last year to this year."
There is a chance the Broncos will pursue a veteran quarterback after the June 1 cuts, or later in the summer. But Shanahan wants to make sure Kanell and the young guns get enough practice time to prove themselves.
Plummer said he believes Kanell has the edge.
"They haven't caught up to him because Danny has been in the league and played eight years," Plummer said. "They haven't been thrown
into the fire like Danny has, and he can deal with that."
Kanell said he noticed when Shanahan wooed Garcia and Frerotte, but said he's going about his business just the same.
"This is my livelihood so, sure, I notice things like that," Kanell said. "But I can't let that affect my game. If we sign guys, then great, then we'll all still compete. I'm just ready to show what I can do."
Staff writer Patrick Saunders can be reached at 303-820-5459 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last season, starting quarterback Jake Plummer took every snap - something no other Broncos quarterback had ever done. But if he gets hurt in 2005, the team will need a reliable understudy. The battle to fill the No. 2 spot started this week at the team's quarterback camp. Here are the contenders:
6-foot-3, 218 pounds,
Kanell started 20 games for the
Giants from 1997-98 and started two games for the Broncos in 2003. That experience makes him the favorite - unless the team brings in another veteran.
Quotable: "This is the first time I have been in a pro offense (same system) for three years running, so I think that will be a huge advantage for me."
6-1, 213, second season
After leading Louisiana State to a share of the 2003 national title, Mauck wowed training camp observers as a rookie last summer. He spent most of his first NFL season on the Broncos' practice squad.
Mobility and passing accuracy are his strong points.
Quotable: "I feel like I'm a fairly good athlete and move around, a little bit like Jake. So I think that fits this system really well."
BRADLEE VAN PELT
6-2, 231, first season
The fan favorite from Colorado State had a ragged rookie training camp and spent the 2004 season on the practice squad, but he showed flashes of the athleticism that made him such a good college player. Built like a linebacker, Van Pelt is a physical player who has made great efforts to improve his passing and learn the offense.
Quotable: "When I get out there in a game, I feel as loose as anybody. I know I am more of a gamer, and coach (Mike) Shanahan knows it. I have that thing that I don't believe can be taught, and that's going out there and winning games, one way or another."
6-6, 211, rookie
Signed as an undrafted free agent, the record-setting Colorado School of Mines quarterback is eager to see what he can do at the pro level. In 2004, Friehauf was awarded the Harlon Hill Trophy as the top player in Division II after setting NCAA single-season records for passing yards (4,646) and completions (384). But he knows the NFL is a different ballgame.
Quotable: "I'm not worried about my place on the team. I just want to come into the camp and learn the system."
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