Ready and Waiting

IRVING, Tex. - Jon Kitna finds himself in an unusual position. Quarterbacks are, by nature, ultra-competitive, alpha males. They want the ball. They want the starting job. They want to lead their teams.

Kitna is no exception.

He has been a productive player with the Seattle Seahawks, Cincinnati Bengals and Detroit Lions, piling up 21,293 yards and 152 touchdown passes over 12 seasons. He might not be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but he's hardly a lifetime backup, either.

Yet that's exactly the situation in which Kitna finds himself. The Cowboys paid a steep price — cornerback Anthony Henry — to bring him to Dallas from Detroit with the hope that he never plays. Kitna is not here to take over the offense. Instead, he was brought in to be Tony Romo's caddy (and no, that has nothing to do with Romo's golf game).

"It's the role you have to accept," Kitna said Tuesday after the first workout in his new team's second Organized Team Activity (OTA). "Like I've said, and will continue to say: the best-case scenario for this football team is for me to not have to play a snap.

"But if the time comes, I'll be ready."

The Cowboys are Kitna's fourth team, but he said the Dallas offense isn't entirely new to him.

"It's basically the same system I've been in for (10) years," Kitna said. "I spent two years in the West Coast system, but other than that, I've been in this system.

"The terminology and the verbiage is the hardest thing, just calling the plays in the huddle and procedure at the line of scrimmage. Those are the things. But that just comes with repetition — the physical side of things is not an issue. The routes and things are similar, but the verbiage is different. As a quarterback, that's almost more daunting than any of the physical stuff, because you just get accustomed to saying things a certain way."

After languishing through Detroit's 0-16 season last year, Kitna said he is thrilled to be a part of a team with the talent Dallas has. But he also said that in addition to talent, a winning team has to be professional in the way it practices, and he said he sees that in the Cowboys.

"I don't know if you're impressed, but you're happy to be on it," he said of the Cowboys' talent-laden roster. "They all stand out. They've had, basically, Pro Bowlers at every position on both sides of the football.

"But again, we're working in shorts, and everybody understands the tempo. The great thing is that this team knows how to practice, and that has a very real carry-over effect."

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