Minicamp quarterback battles are brewing 2009-05-14

While the will-he or won't-he discussions revolve daily around Brett Favre and his fragile right arm and battered ego, there remain some other truly interesting quarterback debates throughout the NFL.

In a recent check of spring minicamps and also OTA workouts, there are already four teams with simmering quarterback controversies — Cleveland, San Francisco, Tampa Bay and Oakland — and several others where there's a new starter under the microscope, plus more with questionable returning starters.

A quarterback's psyche can be easily bruised in the NFL. And that's what makes all this talk all the more interesting. I mean, does anyone think that Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels really believe Vikings coach Brad Childress when he says not to worry about all these Favre rumors? It's got to be tough to go to work under those conditions. But enough about Favre (silly me, it's an easy trap).

BROWNS: Derek Anderson vs. Brady Quinn

Across the Bay, Oakland coach Tom Cable actually allowed Jeff Garcia, who was dumped by the Bucs, to receive equal snaps with JaMarcus Russell in last weekend's minicamp.

Now, how much sense does that make when Garcia couldn't get the ball deep last season with the Bucs and with Al Davis drafting the very fast Darrius Heyward-Bey with the No. 7 overall pick? Granted, the rookie receiver had a tight hamstring for two of those practices, so there were few opportunities to wildly miss this new target.

We all know that Cable wants to push Russell into becoming a great quarterback, but Garcia's run-around style is the complete opposite of Russell's huge pocket presence. Not surprisingly, most reports had Russell looking pretty average at times last weekend. I mean, shouldn't this kid be getting as many practice snaps as he wants and needs?

Czar's QB prediction: Cable needs to be tough with Russell, but ultimately Davis will demand that his former No. 1 pick starts.

Divisions of note

NFC NORTH: Many believe that Jay Cutler, who treated Broncos owner Pat Bowlen like a team janitor, will make the Bears a playoff team — forgetting that the defense was dreadful last season and that the wide receiver stable is barren except for kick returner Devin Hester and tight end Greg Olsen. That's why GM Jerry Angelo spent three draft picks on potential receiving targets.

There is no doubt that Cutler could be the best Bears quarterback since Jim McMahon, although Mac didn't mind handing off. The entire NFC North is all about quarterbacks, considering the Vikings and their Favre watch, the Lions taking Matthew Stafford No. 1 overall and the Packers believing that Aaron Rodgers will improve off his 6-10 record as Favre's replacement. One interesting tidbit is that Packers coach Mike McCarthy picked Alex Smith over Rodgers when he was San Francisco's offensive coordinator in the 2005 draft, then last season chose Louisville's Brian Brohm in the second round along with seventh-rounder Matt Flynn of LSU, who showed a lot of promise.

AFC WEST: Out in Denver, ex-Chicago quarterback Kyle Orton inherits Cutler's talented group of receivers and his gutsy style gives him a chance to succeed. In the same division, the Chiefs are hoping that franchise man, Matt Cassell, can live up to his $14.6 million paycheck.

Like the NFC North, the AFC West is a fascinating division for quarterback stories. San Diego's Philip Rivers is the top dog while the whole world waits for Russell to emerge in Oakland. In the 50th anniversary season of the old American Football League, the West — which used to be known for many a shootout — could prove to be a boon to quarterbacks or an all-out bust again with Rivers being the lone possible exception.

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: May 14, 2009