Patriots Camp: Questions Surround Davey

Patriots training camp is coming to an end as they prepare for their first preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals. The exhibition will be a chance for both teams to evaluate their players, rookies and veterans alike. Some of those evaluations will include one of the more intensive battles in Pats camp, the role of backup quarterback. PI insider Jon Scott takes a look at the incumbent backup QB and some of the questions he's facing heading into his fourth season.

PHOTO: Patriots QB Rohan Davey (red shirt foreground) is facing stiff competition for the backup role behind starter Tom Brady from backup Matt Cassel (background) and veteran Doug Flutie (not pictured). (PatriotsInsider Photo)

Patriots Camp: Questions Surround Davey
By Jon Scott, Patriots Insider

Rohan Davey is entering his fourth season as a professional quarterback, and has yet to prove he is a viable alternative at that position for the Patriots. Drafted in the fourth round out of LSU, he has been the primary backup to veteran Tom Brady for his entire career. While some might argue that isn't such a bad thing, backing up Brady has left Davey little time to gain valuable game experience.

In the limited opportunities Davey has had, most of his work has been in the preseason where his quarterback rating was a disappointing 50.3 last year. That is the kind of statistic, which can get you a boarding pass on a plane headed home in this league. Davey has been fortunate that hasn't been the case thus far, but he doesn't seem worried about it. He contends that it's a matter of going out and trying harder to prove he deserves to keep his backup role.

"Everything is always about what you can do on the football team or how you can step up to challenges," said Davey. "This preseason, I'm going to go in and try to show a little bit more."

After numerous camp competitions, most notably one with Jim Miller and Kliff Kingsbury last season, Davey continues to outplay his competition for the backup spot. That status quo may be changing this season.

The Patriots went out and signed veteran signal caller Doug Flutie and drafted rookie Matt Cassel in the seventh round. In spite of these moves to improve the level of competition at that position, head coach Bill Belichick thinks enough of Davey to let him keep his #2 spot in spite of his dismal preseason statistics and questionable accuracy in practice.

"We've seen a lot of players that look good in practice and don't look that good in the games, [and players who] don't look good in practice, and play better in the games." Belichick said.

Reading into what the coach is saying, Preseason doesn't' really matter concerning Davey's evaluation. But is that really the case?

"Again, preseason is preseason. It is what it is, but I don't think that it's the finally evaluation of a player," Belichick explained. "In Rohan's case, he really hasn't had any significant playing time offensively since he's been here during the regular season."

Its possible Belichick has no intention of trading or releasing Davey at this point, having invested four years in his development. But the time for the Jamaican born signal caller to show what he can do has arrived. With Flutie and Cassel ready to take away his limited snaps, Davey has to demonstrate he deserves to retain the #2 spot for 2005.

''The goal every year is to come out and make the roster, but you can't really worry about making the team," Davey commented as he reflected on a question about the increased competition he faces.

Contrary to what both the quarterback and his head coach are saying to the media, the issue comes down to performance. Davey's performance in camp has not instilled confidence in his ability to outperform the competition for the first time in a number of years.

If the competition came down to a matter of arm strength, Davey would win the contest hands-down. Considering it's based upon completions and effectiveness, Davey has looked like anything but the eventual winner.

Flutie has shown he has the touch on his passes Davey lacks, as well as the ability to scramble around to make a play. Cassel has shown a deft touch on his passes as he works diligently to learn the system.

Davey has experience in the system, but will that be enough for him to retain his job? The coach and the player think so, but things are not looking as rosy as they once did.

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