Skip to main content

Brainy battle

Posted: 5:15 p.m.

With the Bengals mandatory minicamp set to begin in 10 days, takes a look at each position group.

By virtue of his three previous NFL seasons, Ryan Fitzpatrick has to be viewed as the frontrunner for the backup job he had last season when he came over in a trade from St.Louis.





Ryan Fitzpatrick (6-2, 225; Fourth season; three NFL starts)
Fitzpatrick is the first Harvard quarterback ever to start an NFL game, but quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese thinks the brain thing can be a little overdone.

Oh, Zampese is impressed with his decisiveness and command of the game, but he also thinks Fitzpatrick doesn't get enough credit for his arm strength.



Carson Palmer (6-5, 230; Sixth season; 61 NFL starts)
Otherwise known as The Franchise. He's coming off a season in which he broke his own club records with 373 completions and 4,131 passing yards, as well as setting a team-record with six touchdown passes in Cleveland.

But what gets lost in the numbers is his quiet, relentless toughness. For the third straight season he started every game and in '07 he took every snap.

What Palmer does want to improve is cutting down on his interceptions. They were far from all his fault, but 20 picks were a career high and led the league in a tie with good friend Jon Kitna and Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning.

"That's a little bit of decision-making and a little bit of technique," Zampese says. "He'll be fine. He's so conscientious about it and he continually works at it."



Jordan Palmer (6-2, 232; First season; 0 NFL starts)
Carson's brother, Jordan didn't accrue an NFL season last year after the Redskins took him in the sixth round in the '07 Draft and he sat out the season when they cut him two days following his only preseason appearance.

Since Jordan didn't sign with the Bengals until Jan. 30 this year, he finds himself against Fitzpatrick's and Jeff Rowe's knowledge of the playbook.

But in the voluntary workouts Jordan has impressed with his outgoing personality and ability to get in the huddle to convey his message as well as knowing where to go with the ball. He just needs to get reps so they have a better idea what he can do.

If Jordan makes it, they will be the first quarterback-brother tandem to be on an active roster in the Super Bowl era and the first brothers at any positiion with the Bengals since running back Archie Griffin and cornerback Ray Griffin in 1983.



Jeff Rowe (6-5, 221; Second season; 0 NFL starts)
A fifth-round draft pick in '07, he picked up the nickname "Two-Minute Rowe," when in the last drives of the first two preseason games he led drives of 51 and 79 yards with a 107 passer rating.

In his first NFL appearance in the preseason opener in Detroit, Rowe faced a fourth-and-seven from the Bengals 43, trailing 27-26, with 38 seconds left. With the Lions blitzing and not enough blockers to account for them, Rowe went right to his first "hot" read in tight end Nate Lawrie for a nine-yard play that moved the chains and stopped the clock with 30 seconds left on a drive in which Shayne Graham missed a 39-yard field goal at the gun.

"He sees things quickly," Zampese says. "He feels the pressure (in the pocket), he's got good reaction to things in front of him."

Zampese is still working on Rowe's footwork in an effort to cut down on the time it takes him to release the ball, but he has improved on it the past year.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.