Bengals acquire pair of vet backups for Palmer

With so many projected starting QBs recovering from injuries, teams placed a heavy emphasis on acquiring backups this offseason.

Updated: July 19, 2006, 3:03 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

When it comes to the oversized contingent of rehabilitating quarterbacks in the NFL, optimism regarding their readiness for the regular season is definitely the prevailing sentiment as training camps begin to open.

But in a league where it is always wise for a franchise to cover its backside in the backfield, prudence isn't far behind.

"You never want to get caught short," said Miami coach Nick Saban, who totally has turned over the Dolphins' quarterback depth chart from the one he had in his initial training camp last summer. "Not at that position."

So almost as noteworthy as the remarkable recoveries of the injured quarterbacks from the 2005 campaign is that virtually every team that went into the offseason with uncertainty at the position buttressed its depth chart with an experienced veteran.

Just after the rehabilitation regimens, it seemed, came the contingency plans.

Saban traded for former Detroit starter Joey Harrington to backstop the Dolphins against the possibility that Daunte Culpepper might not be recovered from three torn ligaments in his right knee. After suffering through shoddy play at the position following hernia surgery to Donovan McNabb, the Philadelphia Eagles signed three-time Pro Bowl performer Jeff Garcia. St. Louis added journeyman Gus Frerotte, who started 15 games for Miami in 2005, to back up Marc Bulger, who has had three shoulder injuries in two seasons.

Cincinnati lost Jon Kitna to Detroit in free agency but added veteran backups Anthony Wright and Doug Johnson to ensure itself experience in the event Carson Palmer is not ready for the start of the season. With Chad Pennington rehabilitating from a second surgery to his right rotator cuff, the New York Jets acquired former Washington first-round choice Patrick Ramsey, and addressed the long-term future by selecting Kellen Clemens in the second round.

The New Orleans Saints signed Jamie Martin to battle for the job as Drew Brees' backup. And the Chicago Bears imported Brian Griese, himself rehabilitating from knee surgery, as an insurance policy for Rex Grossman, who was limited to just four starts the last two seasons because of injuries.

One team that made no move, however, was Pittsburgh. Despite the motorcycle accident that left starter Ben Roethlisberger with head and facial injuries, the Steelers seem pretty confident their young star will be recovered for training camp. And they have just as much confidence that Charlie Batch, despite starting only two games in the past four seasons, is capable of taking over the top job on a short-term basis if Roethlisberger isn't ready.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click here Insider.