AFC West: 2012 backup quarterback

Raiders: Backup QB plan

June, 6, 2012
6/06/12
12:00
PM ET
Assessing the Oakland Raiders’ backup QB situation if Carson Palmer is injured and misses time.

Familiarity is a big deal for backup quarterbacks, and that is a strong positive for Matt Leinart. He has a close bond with Palmer after backing him up at USC, and Leinart played for new offensive coordinator Greg Knapp in Houston. However, he has never shown aptitude as an NFL starter, so the Raiders could be in trouble if Palmer has to miss significant time. Leinart, who has struggled to stay healthy, is 8-10 as a starter in his career. The Raiders also have second-year quarterback Terrelle Pryor. He has an uphill battle to overtake Leinart as the backup this season.

Confidence rating (out of 100) if Palmer is out for extended period: 35.

Chiefs: Backup QB plan

June, 6, 2012
6/06/12
11:30
AM ET
Assessing the Chiefs’ backup QB situation if Matt Cassel is injured and misses time.

The Chiefs are not yet committed to veteran Brady Quinn as their backup. They have rotated Quinn with 2011 fifth-round pick Ricky Stanzi during organized team activities. Still, I think Quinn (who played for Kansas City coach Romeo Crennel in Cleveland) will go to camp as the favorite to be Cassel’s backup. Quinn has much more experience than Stanzi. However, Quinn has never shown he can be a capable NFL starter. He is 3-9 as an NFL starter and he hasn’t started a game since 2009. But at this point, Quinn may be a better starting option than Stanzi if Cassel goes down.

Confidence rating (out of 100) if Cassel is out for extended period: 35.

Chargers: Backup QB plan

June, 6, 2012
6/06/12
11:00
AM ET
NFC Backup QBs: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Assessing the San Diego Chargers' backup QB situation if Philip Rivers is injured and misses time.

The Chargers are taking a risk by going with Charlie Whitehurst as Rivers’ backup. Whitehurst spent four seasons with the Chargers and was traded to Seattle two years ago. The Seahawks had designs that Whitehurst (a preseason star in San Diego) could become solid starter. It never happened and he finished 1-3 as a starter in Seattle. When he became available this offseason, San Diego cut longtime backup Billy Volek in a salary-cap move and went with the younger Whitehurst, who is 29. He is comfortable in San Diego, and the Chargers like him. Still, I think Volek would have been a better option if Rivers was to go down.

Confidence rating (out of 100) if Rivers is out for an extended period: 15.

Broncos: Backup QB plan

June, 6, 2012
6/06/12
10:36
AM ET
NFC Backup QBs: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Assessing the Broncos’ backup QB situation if Peyton Manning is injured and misses time.

Caleb Hanie was a bust in Chicago, but the Broncos believe he fits their system and he can be a solid backup to Manning this year. He is big and strong and has some skill. Yet, he was a disaster last season in Chicago when Jay Cutler went down. Hanie was 0-4 as a starter. He is in an interesting position because Manning has to prove he is healed from a neck injury that cost him the entire 2011 season. If Manning can’t come back, the Broncos will be banking on Hanie early. It’s a major risk. The Broncos drafted long-term prospect Brock Osweiler, but the team doesn’t plan on him being a No. 2 this early in his career.

Confidence rating (out of 100) if Manning goes out for an extended period: 30.

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