NFC East: Jim Sorgi
In Washington, backup Rex Grossman very well could end up as the opening day starter because Donovan McNabb is once again injured. Philadelphia has Michael Vick as its No. 2 and -- like last year -- he should be primed to see the field quite a bit in specific packages designed for his unique skill set. In New York, Eli Manning’s backup is Rhett Bomar, but Manning -- like his older brother -- is an iron man at quarterback. Lastly, Dallas features veteran Jon Kitna as Tony Romo’s backup.
Here’s how I rank the backup quarterback situations in the NFC East.
1. Dallas Cowboys: Kitna has had success as a starting quarterback in this league. He is a tough guy who is well respected and liked by his teammates. Kitna can be a risk-taker and force the action, but he also has a solid understanding of coverages and what it takes to succeed at this level. However, he has yet to throw a regular-season pass for the Cowboys. Still, I have faith that Kitna could be effective on a short-term basis.
2. Philadelphia Eagles: Vick is a gimmick player who looks to be getting back to form as an explosive running athlete. But his accuracy is still a big problem. He just isn’t that good of a passer. If Kevin Kolb were to go down, Vick would get more snaps, but it wouldn’t shock me if Mike Kafka also played a role in a two-headed quarterback situation. Kafka is very intelligent and played quite well in the preseason game against the Chiefs. He might have a bright future.
3. Washington Redskins: Grossman once led the Bears to the Super Bowl. But inconsistency and injuries have hurt his career. He has always been someone who runs either hot or cold. And his confidence seems to waver. The Redskins’ coaching staff, namely offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, is very familiar with Grossman and seems to believe in him. However, he doesn’t move as well as he once did. He’s also short for the position and can struggle to see the entire field and find throwing lanes. And his 54 percent career completion percentage and 33/36 touchdown/interception ratio doesn’t exactly inspire a lot of confidence.
4. New York Giants: Bomar has ability. He was one of the most heavily recruited players in the nation before signing with Oklahoma. His college career was derailed by off-the-field problems and he ended up at Sam Houston State. Bomar moves very well and has a good arm. He also has put together a fine preseason. He might just develop into a very solid No. 2 behind the ever-durable Manning, but is very much a work in progress. Jim Sorgi was scheduled to back up Manning, but a shoulder injury has landed him on injured reserve.
Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.
And with the emergence of rookie wide receiver Victor Cruz in the preseason games, even a healthy Moss would've been hard-pressed to make the 53-man roster. Sixth-round draft pick Adrian Tracy (dislocated elbow) was also placed on injured reserve Tuesday, and offensive lineman Kevin Boothe (pectoral) was moved to the reserve physically unable to perform list (PUP), which will keep him out at least the first six weeks of the season.
Sorgi, a seven-year veteran, suffered a shoulder injury in the preseason opener against the Jets and hasn't been able to practice since. In addition to starter Eli Manning, the Giants now have Bomar and the recently signed Dominic Randolph. We'll quickly find out how much faith coach Tom Coughlin has in Bomar. I felt like he was going to beat out Sorgi anyway, but it's still unsettling to have such an inexperienced player backing up Manning.
Moss underwent surgery for a sports hernia Tuesday morning and it's likely that he's played his final game for the Giants. He had 39 catches for 421 yards and three touchdowns in his career with the club. Moss had his moments in the preseason over the years, but he was never able to take that to the regular season.
Rookie wide receiver Nyan Boateng was also released Tuesday, so the Giants are now down to 75 players. They'll have to be at 53 by Saturday afternoon.
"Eli will not play this week but I won't go any further than that," Coughlin said after practice. "There is a question as to whether what he can do with a hat on [in practice]. I am not going to rush things. If the doctors say it is OK for him to throw, then he will do some throwing. But he is definitely not going to put the helmet on."
A couple of Manning's buddies on the offensive line showed up to Wednesday's practice with large bandages on their foreheads. Coughlin said there was a possibility the Giants would sign another quarterback in the next couple days in case Sorgi's not ready to go against the Steelers.
For Manning, this will be a moment that stays with him for a long time. There's nothing like opening a brand new stadium by leaking blood all over the playing surface after a botched play.
"I always thought my first game ever versus Philadelphia would be the biggest hit I would ever take," said Manning on Wednesday. "Jerome McDougle gave me a good pop but this is right up there. Kind of a double whammy, and you get a little blood and stuff, it is always a good hit. Let's hope this will be the worst one."
And in case you're wondering, Giants camp phenom Victor Cruz is supposed to call the Beast later this evening. We'll keep you posted. If he calls, I'll probably write something up for Thursday morning. Thanks for your continued support.
Todd Archer of The Dallas Morning News shared what he learned during from OTAs and minicamp workouts.
Jean-Jacques Taylor expects Anthony Spencer and Mike Jenkins to help the Cowboys generate more turnovers.
New York Giants
Jonathan Goff has his sights set on being the Giants' starting middle linebacker.
Best known as Peyton Manning's understudy in Indianapolis, Jim Sorgi is now set to back up Eli Manning in New York.
Sheil Kapadia offers five thought on the Eagles' defense following the conclusion of OTAs.
How a young Eagles team deals with criticism from the fans will be important, according to former Philadelphia quarterback Donovan McNabb.
McNabb was back in the Philadelphia area to host his annual camp.
Running back Brian Westbrook says joining the Redskins remains a possibility.
But back to the Giants. Why would Coughlin be in Gainesville, Fla., for a pro day when he has Eli Manning, the immortal Jim Sorgi and Rhett Bomar on the roster? Well, maybe he wanted to see that new delivery for himself. I think we're about to see Tebow come roaring up draft boards. It's not like the Giants are going to take him at No. 15, but I wouldn't rule them out of trying to land him on Friday of the draft. And don't think the presence of Rex Grossman in Washington will prevent Mike Shanahan from taking a long look at Tebow.
Since we last met, the Redskins have signed troubled running back Larry Johnson, the Giants landed quarterback Jim Sorgi, the Eagles visited with two running backs and the Cowboys hosted a Manny Pacquiao fight. We can also discuss what the Redskins are planning to do at No. 4 overall, which is part of today's "Big Question" on the ESPN.com blog network (1 p.m. ET).
If you click here, you can participate in one of the fastest-growing weekly chats from the SportsNation family. We're expecting unusually large crowds today, so plan on showing up early. I've been known to answer the first five questions in deference to punctuality.
Now let me suggest reading Andy Katz's breakdown of the South Regional.
I'm still trying to determine exactly how Sorgi injured his shoulder in '09 -- since he wasn't playing. There were rumors that it was a non-football injury, but even folks close to the situation haven't come up with an explanation. I'm sure the Giants did their due diligence in determining how the injury occurred. And if I ever hear the story, I'll be happy to pass it along.
By the way, do you guys feel like Rhett Bomar will have a legitimate opportunity to win the No. 2 role? One more question: Who has the best backup quarterback in the NFC East? Here's how I'd rank them (I'm leaving a certain Wildcat quarterback out of the mix):
1. Kevin Kolb
2. Jon Kitna
3. Jim Sorgi
4. Colt Brennan
If you determine that Michael Vick is the backup quarterback in Philly rather than Kolb, then he'd also head the list. Thoughts? Concerns? Praise?
My biggest concern would be that Sorgi always seems to get banged up in the preseason, which is pretty much the only time he plays. Obviously, the Giants are hoping they never have to turn to Sorgi during the regular season, and given Eli's ability to play through pain, there's a good chance that will happen.
Giants general manager Jerry Reese and coach Tom Coughlin love creating competition in training camp and I bet they're hoping Bomar and Sorgi feed off each other.
The terms of the deal are not yet available. Now, let's return to our weekly chat.
- Todd Archer of the Dallas Morning News spoke with Jerry Jones about his inactivity in free agency.
- Jan Hubbard of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram says that Jones wants to build a swimming pool at Cowboys Stadium. Seriously.
- Calvin Watkins of ESPNDallas.com has the latest on Martellus Bennett's recent complaints.
- Les Bowen of the Daily News has a story on Jason Avant's new contract. I had no idea that Rodney Harrison had such an influence on Avant.
- Jeff McLane of the Inquirer explains the restructuring of Stacy Andrews' contract.
- Reuben Frank offers his take on the release of Reggie Brown.
- Ralph Vacchiano of the Daily News says New York whiffed on a kickoff specialist.
- Vinny DiTrani of Bergen County fame says the Giants will pass on Jim Sorgi -- for now.
- Here is Mike Garafolo's take on Fred Robbins signing with the Rams.
- DeAngelo Hall told ESPN's "First Take" that he's excited about the direction of the franchise. Nice of him to refer to his former teammates as "dead weight."
- Rick Maese, who does a really nice job for the Post, talks about Andre Carter's transition to a 3-4 linebacker. It could be a struggle.
- Jason Reid of the Post reports that nose tackle Maake Kemoeatu will be at Redskins Park today.
Sorgi, a sixth-round pick by the Colts in '04, is probably a better option than aging quarterbacks such as Jeff Garcia and Mark Brunell. But don't underestimate Tom Coughlin's love of Brunell after they worked together in Jacksonville. The best thing about Sorgi is that he's spent six years serving as Peyton Manning's understudy. I assume that he's bumped into Eli a time or two during that period, so it would probably be an easy transition.
Garcia would be the wrong fit because he's never truly accepted the idea of being a backup in the league. And for some teams, it's good to have a guy who's capable of making the starter uncomfortable. That's not the case with the Giants. Unless Sorgi's health is a concern (he's banged up a lot for a guy who rarely plays), I expect him to soon be on New York's roster.
The Colts released him over the weekend for financial reasons. With Giants unrestricted free-agent David Carr meeting with other teams, it makes sense that New York would meet with another veteran. Their only other option as a backup is second-year quarterback Rhett Bomar.
Sorgi's spent six seasons working under Peyton, so backing up Eli shouldn't be that big of an adjustment. The Giants will quickly try to determine how much ability Sorgi has at this point in his career. But all things equal, I think New York's about ready to move on without Carr.
Here's what Payton had to say about Brunell's impact on the Saints:
"One thing we were looking for was someone [who] A) we felt could still play," Payton said. "It's one thing to say we want to have a mentor and yet our jobs as coaches is to make sure we're providing that. So it started with the question, do we feel like we have a vision for the player in Mark Brunell? We felt like his arm strength was still solid and [so was his] delivery and there's a confidence level about him in the huddle and in practice that is somewhat contagious. And I think that's a good trait to have when you're someone who could be called on at any time.
"So outside the evaluation process, the other things were things we felt real good about. He has been someone who's a key figure on this team and has a key role. He still works and prepares just like you would expect for any one of your players each week."
I think it's difficult for star quarterbacks to transition into a mentor role in this league but Brunell had done a really nice job. And I think you're also seeing the same thing with Jon Kitna with the Cowboys. Brunell obviously had more success than Kitna as a quarterback but they're at similar stages in their careers.
Another guy in that same age bracket, Jeff Garcia, has never really embraced the mentor role. He still wants to be a starter no matter who he's playing behind. And sometimes having a guy like that on the roster can be a motivating force for a young quarterback who needs to be pushed.
By the way, which backup would you take in this Super Bowl? Give me Brunell over the immortal Curtis Painter or the former Badger, Jim Sorgi.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
What a nut that Tony Dungy is with an onside kick on the first play of the Hall of Fame game.
- Colts quarterback Jim Sorgi has been given the hook after one series. Sorgi was 7-of-10 for 66 yards before turning things over to former Jaguars quarterback Quinn Gray.
- Redskins have to be pleased with what they saw from seventh-round defensive end Rob Jackson, who sacked Sorgi in the first quarter. I watched Jackson in person at least twice when he was at Kansas State, and he's one of those high-motor guys that could give the Redskins some much-needed depth behind Jason Taylor and Andre Carter.
- By the way, Taylor has turned his new jersey into a muscle shirt. Sort of an odd look. When the Hall of Fame class was introduced before the game, Taylor set up shop just a couple of feet behind them.
- I like the way Jason Campbell looks so far. He looked like Peyton Manning on that playfake where he ended up hitting Santana Moss downfield. Too bad Malcolm Kelly and Devin Thomas are both sitting this one out. Those are the guys I really want to see. I know what Moss and Antwaan Randle El are at this point: speedy guys who don't get it done in the red zone.
Jim Zorn has been working with Campbell on taking bigger strides and then getting lower in the pocket. So far he looks a lot less stiff than I've seen in the past.
I love seeing guys like Art Monk and Darrell Green talk about what the Hall of Fame means to them. Remind me to tell you a great Green story that Michael Irvin told me last week.