Can the Bears Consider Carrying Four Quarterbacks?

Considering the recent history of instability at the position, the unlikely experiment may be worth eating up an extra roster spot.

Rex Grossman, Chad Hutchinson and Kyle Orton are securely locked into the top three spots on the depth chart.

A quarterback could be put on the eight-man practice squad, but Kurt Kittner is not eligible for the designation and another team would quickly snatch Orton if he were exposed.

While Ryan Dinwiddie is an option, expecting him to contribute on the active roster is unrealistic at this point.

Although Kittner played five years under offensive coordinator Ron Turner while he was head coach at Illinois, the Bears have been down that road before. Jonathan Quinn might as well have been a coach because his knowledge of Terry Shea's scheme did little to help him in the pocket.

Kittner rejoined the team this week after an excellent spring in NFL Europe. Fresh from leading the Amsterdam Admirals to the league championship, Kittner moved up a peg on the Bears' depth chart with the release of Craig Krenzel.

The Schaumburg High School graduate was named MVP of World Bowl XIII after completing 15 of 28 passes for 239 yards and two TDs in a 27-21 win over the Berlin Thunder.

"He's got a real good feel for what we're doing," Turner said of Kittner's familiarity with the offense. "It's changed a little bit since he was there, but not much, very minor. He'll be able to pick it up and that'll help him tremendously."

Kittner, who was drafted in the fifth round in 2002 by the Falcons, had four starts for Atlanta in 2003 but completed just 44 of 114 passes for 391 yards with 2 TDs and 6 interceptions. He spent last season out of football after being released by the Falcons, Bengals, Giants, Patriots and Steelers in a five-month span. The 6-foot-2, 212-pound Kittner is looking forward to reuniting with Turner.

"I think he just has an understanding of what's going on, and he teaches the quarterbacks well," Kittner said. "So when you're on the field, you can almost predict or you know what types of plays he's going to call in certain situations just because over the week you've gone over it so much."

Carrying four quarterbacks on the 53-man roster would be risky. It would leave the team one man short at another position. Ten players ended the '04 season on Injured Reserve, so the Bears realize being shorthanded can lead to desperate measures. Such was the case when Krenzel got an unexpected five starts as a rookie, when he was thrown into the fray after Grossman was injured and Quinn was ineffective.

However, when at least three quarterbacks have started for the team the past three years and six of the last seven, unorthodox methods must be considered.

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