Jon Kitna aims to make the most-watched position in football a non-issue in training camp.
For the first time in his three years with the Cincinnati
Bengals, Kitna will enter camp as the starting quarterback. He does not face a
"quarterback competition," which he encountered in 2001 (Scott Mitchell, Akili
Smith) and 2002 (Gus Frerotte and Smith).
The position is its most stable
since Smith entered camp as the starter in 2000, even though three-fourths of
the position is new since the Dec. 29 season finale at Buffalo.
(Packers), Frerotte (Vikings) and Joe Germaine are gone. Only Kitna remains,
joined by 10-year veteran Shane Matthews (Redskins), Heisman Trophy winner
Carson Palmer (Southern California) and free agent rookie Tommy
Kitna will lose the job, as Smith did in 2000, if
the offense bottoms out. But if the offense can maintain its production in
Kitna's 12 starts in 2002, and possibly build on that, only injury will knock
him off the field.
After scoring just 16 offensive points in the first
four games, the Bengals averaged 21.3 points in Kitna's 12 starts.
optimistic measure was yards. The Bengals gained 350 yards in eight games under
Kitna, and projected over a 16-game schedule, Kitna's offense would have been
eighth in total yards (357.3), seventh in passing (240.1), eighth in completion
percentage (63.0) and 10th in averaged times sacked (1.9).
To his credit,
Kitna last summer said he would accept a backup role if Frerotte or Smith were
named starter heading into camp. He proved prophetic.
With snaps evenly
distributed in training camp practices and Smith getting the bulk of the work in
preseason games, Frerotte was not ready when the season opened. Smith was
elevated from No. 3 to starter for one game against Tampa Bay (no offensive
Five offensive players with at least 40 receptions (Chad
Johnson, Peter Warrick, Ron Dugans, Corey Dillon and T.J. Houshmandzadeh) all
return. The Bengals added tight end Reggie Kelly in free agency and potential
third receiver Kelley Washington and left guard Eric Steinbach in the
"The return of offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski for a third
consecutive year also should help," Kitna says.
An area that needs
improvement is red-zone performance. Of their 42 possessions, the Bengals scored
just 19 touchdowns (27th in the league) and 10 field goals.
If Kitna can
stabilize the position, more attention can be paid to other need areas, such as
the defensive line and special teams.
Bengals hand keys to Kitna with confidence
Scout NFL Network Top Stories
Game Balls and Goats: Giants 17 Rams 10 FinalThe Giants Beat recaps the big winners and losers from a tight battle at Twickenham Stadium.
The Giants Beat4:52 PM
Zimmer on Vikings loss: ‘Embarrassing’The Minnesota Vikings’ undefeated season came to an abrupt end in a overwhelming 21-10 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday.
Viking Update2:33 PM
Hogan sets franchise record in his first gameKevin Hogan set a Browns record in his first NFL game.
The OBR1:51 PM
Josh Norman Out With ConcussionThe Redskins' top cornerback went to the locker room in the third quarter.
Breaking Burgundy11:48 AM