ARLINGTON, Texas -- As intensely competitive as Stephen McGee is, he isn’t gunning for the guy ahead of him on the depth chart.
McGee knows Jon Kitna, who did a solid job as a fill-in starter last season, has a strong grasp on the backup quarterback job. McGee’s goal is to maximize the opportunity to learn from a willing mentor with a decade and a half of NFL quarterbacking experience.
“Kit’s been instrumental in my development here,” said McGee, who was thrown into the fire during the final two games of last season after Kitna suffered an oblique injury. “You can learn so much from watching him. It’s a competition every day out here in practice, but I look at is as, I just want to make the most of every rep I get, every opportunity I get.
“For me right now, it’s two reps in practice or maybe it’s blue practice. Make all those reps count and not worry about the rest. I’m competing against myself to be the best I can be every day and let whatever else happens happen.”
Kitna, who turns 39 in September, won’t play forever. This might be his final NFL season. McGee needs to be ready to move up the depth chart if Kitna retires.
Kitna is more than willing to help McGee prepare. Late last season, Kitna said McGee improved as much in one year as any quarterback he’d seen, raving about the work ethic of a guy who lives in the Valley Ranch neighborhood because he plans to spend the majority of his waking hours at the team’s practice facility.
McGee gushes with appreciation for how much Kitna has gone out of his way to help the guy below him on the depth chart develop. McGee basically watches every move Kitna makes and constantly picks the veteran’s brain.
Kitna isn’t the only one who helps McGee. Head coach Jason Garrett, quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson and starter Tony Romo are valuable resources with a combined dozens of years of NFL quarterbacking experience. But Kitna is the one guy McGee can always count on for help throughout the season, when the other have their hands full preparing for opponents.
“Coaches have to coach. Romo has to be the leader of the team,” McGee said. “Kitna has his job, too, no doubt, but he also has time to help me out if I have a question or whatever it may be. That’s been huge for me. To have a backup guy like Kitna, it couldn’t be a better situation for me.”