AFC East backup quarterback breakdown
September, 1, 2009
By Tim Graham | ESPN.com
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
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Buffalo Bills: If Trent Edwards is unavailable, their situation is standard operating procedure. The only track record Edwards has established is that he gets hurt every year. Shoulder, foot, wrist, concussion, groin: They've all caused Edwards to miss games either at Stanford or for the Bills. To back him up, the Bills signed free agent Ryan Fitzpatrick, a clear No. 2 with game experience. Fitzpatrick has 15 NFL starts, including a dozen last year for the Cincinnati Bengals. Fitzpatrick appeared deficient early in training camp, but he perked up in preseason games, completing 39 of 54 passes for 381 yards and one touchdown with an interception. Gibran Hamdan should be the third-string quarterback again this year.
Miami Dolphins: If Chad Pennington is unavailable, their situation is uneasy. Before Pennington arrived a week into camp last year, rookie Chad Henne was pushing to be the starter straight out of Michigan. He was holding his own against Josh McCown and John Beck and had the front office excited. Enthusiasm has been muted somewhat this year. Henne still is considered the club's future quarterback, but he has struggled in practices and exhibitions. He has completed 19 of 35 passes for 224 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions. Speedy rookie Pat White, a second-round pick out of West Virginia, has seemed mostly uncomfortable in an NFL setting. He was drafted in part because of his Wildcat skills, but his arm has been unimpressive.
New England Patriots: If Tom Brady is unavailable, their situation is tenuous for now. Two days ago, the Patriots waived Kevin O'Connell, the player many expected to be their primary backup. It was a curious move. The Patriots spent a third-round draft pick on O'Connell last year. He entered his rookie season as the third quarterback, but handled the No. 2 duties for Matt Cassel after Brady went down with a knee injury on opening day. In training camp, the Patriots cut Matt Gutierrez and signed free agent Andrew Walter, formerly of the Oakland Raiders. The Patriots are said to be on the lookout for another veteran, but the depth chart for now features Brady, Walter and undrafted rookie Brian Hoyer.
New York Jets: If Mark Sanchez is unavailable, their situation is more manageable than most. The Jets are the only AFC East club with a backup quarterback who lost an open competition for the No. 1 job. The Jets should be at least a little comfortable knowing their insurance policy at least had a shot -- OK, maybe not a great shot -- to win the gig. Kellen Clemens has been undistinguished in the opportunities he has been given since the Jets drafted him in the second round out of Oregon in 2006. He started eight games in his second season. He completed 52 percent of his passes, threw five touchdowns and 10 interceptions and finished with a 60.9 passer rating. One of the real surprises since camp opened has been the play of sophomore Erik Ainge. He will be the third quarterback, but showed signs of life after a worthless rookie season that included a suspension for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs. In the preseason, Ainge is 18-of-32 for 275 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions.