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PREVIOUS SPORTS
• Sideline: Yes, Non–Conference Games DO Count
• NCAA Preview 2009
• Sideline: Time For The Talking To Stop
• Sideline: In Memory of Air McNair
• Sideline: Will Goodell Hand Out Hard Time?
• Sideline: Marshall's Not Joshing
• NFL Draft: No Rush To Judgment
• NFL Draft Analysis 2009 (Part 2)
• Sideline: NFL Draft Thoughts (Part 2)
• Sideline: NFL Draft Thoughts
• Sideline: Will Play For Food
• Sideline: Wonderlic Scores
• Sideline: Manning and Sanchez
• Sideline: 2010 Leagues Sci–fi, or Fantasy? / March Madness
• Sideline: Break Out The Brackets
• Sideline: LaDainian Tomlinson On The Record
• Sideline: The Incredible Sulk Continues
• Sideline: Guildford Heat Fired Up
• Sideline: Super Bowl thoughts from the Valley of the Sun
• Sideline: I know I came in here for something
• Sideline: College Football National Signing Day
• Sideline: 27 Points — 27 Super Bowl thoughts
• Sideline: An Epic QB Matchup?
• Sideline: Appreciating Arizona for What They Were
• Sideline: NFL Divisional Weekend Preview
• Sideline: Bowl Season Hangover
• Sideline: Six weeks Later
• Sideline: Wildcard Weekend Preview
• Sideline: Santa's Sackings
• Sideline: A Weis Decision ...for Now
• Sideline: Eye on the Ticker
• Sideline: Lions — An Anagram of Losin
• Sideline: Ready for the Turkey
• Sideline: Making it to the Big Dance
• Sideline: Brighter Days Ahead for Chargers?
• Sideline: Unnecessary Hits To The Pocket / Upset: BYU
• Sideline: Romo's Pause / Seattle Seahawks
• Sideline: Weekend Prep: Red River and More
• Sideline: College Football's 'Crossroads' Weekend
• Sideline: Gramatical Error
• Sideline: Turning The Page
• Sideline: So Cal 'Quizzed
• Sideline: 3rd Tuesday Panic / Forté Yard Dash
• Sideline: Two and Oh; Oh and Two
• Sideline: No More NCAAffeine
• Sideline: Week 1 College Football
• Sideline: How To Spell Heisman / Chad Ocho Cinco
• Sideline: A Second Slice
• Sideline: The Favre story STILL won't go away
• Sideline: Olympic Notes / Ricky's Still Relevant
• Sideline: Committee Meetings
• Sideline: Let the QB Battles Begin
• Sideline: Slinging The Slinger — More Favre
• Interview: Clint Dempsey
• Sideline: Welcome to the 2008 season
• Sideline: Plus One
• 2008 NFL Draft Review
• Sideline: Draft: The Morning After
• Sideline: Draft: Thinking the Unthinkable
• Sideline: Draft: Ready For The Long Haul
• Sideline: Sofa–bound Sport
• Sideline: Post–Winter Wonderland
• Sideline: Six Impossible Things
• Sideline: Brady's Misdirection Play
• Sideline: Colorful Language
• Sideline: Let the Romo–bashing begin
• Sideline: Bowl Bites: The Wrap
• Sideline: All About The Coaches
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 3
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 2
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 1
• Sideline: Coach Situations Vacant
• Sideline: For Some, The Playoffs Are Now
• Sideline: A Certain Lack Of Welcome
• Sideline: Unrelated Notes
• Sideline: Two Thanksgiving thoughts
• Sideline: Halftime: NFC
• Sideline: Halftime: AFC
• Sideline: London / A Tale of Two Chads / Intimidation
• Sideline: Damp Squib / Other London Notes
• Sideline: Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em / Dolphins – The Aftermath
• Sideline: The Dolphins Did What?
• Sideline: Notes on the Defenses
• Sideline: Habits to be Broken
• Sideline: Overtime
• Sideline: This Week's Starters
• Sideline: USF: Covering The Spread / Fantastic Football
• Sideline: Grossman: The Final Act? / McNabb, the Epilogue
• Sideline: Eagles QB in Slight Controversy
• Sideline: Leftwich's Parting Gift / Boos cruise
• Sideline: Notre Dame M.I.A.
• Sideline: Looking Beyond NFL Wk. 1
• Sideline: Best Hope For Heisman
• Sideline: Coaching Hot Seats / AP Poll Feeling ’Appy
• Sideline: The NFL’s Prime Cuts
• Sideline: Michigan Falls to Killer Apps
• Sideline: Look Out Couch / The Taint's On You, Bud
SPORTS

SIDELINE
Observations, Opinion & Occasional Silliness by Richard L Gale

Let the QB Battles Begin
August 8, 2008

I love NFL preseason games for the exact same reason other people don't. The starters come on, go through half a dozen plays, and come off again. And that's when the fun starts, that's when I get interested.

I enjoy seeing passers, backs and receivers battle for a starting job, backup job, even just the occasional regular season touch. I suspect there are more than a few fantasy football fans out there too, pawing over the statistics looking for a steal. The potential on show elicits that same intoxicating anticipation that fuels every fan's call for the back–up QB to replace the starter.

Thursday night's preseason games were about the starting quarterbacks (or lack thereof), as the Cardinals, Bears and Ravens were all in action. The Cardinals job belongs, we are led to believe, to young bohemian Matt Leinart over bible–lovin' oldie Kurt Warner, but even in Cleveland, where 2007's revelatory performance by Derek Anderson has him ahead of temporarily parked passing messiah Brady Quinn, it is only a matter of degree. Both teams invested first round draft picks and sooner or later want to see what they have. The ousting of Brett Favre from Green Bay in favor of Aaron Rodgers is another variation on the theme.

In Leinart's case, he just needs to look like a starting QB, on or off the field. Thursday night, he did, going 7 of 8 for 91 yards while Warner merely watched. So far, so good. Once they let Warner play as well, we'll have that QB battle for real. Another straight fight looked to be in prospect in New York, where Chad Pennington and Kellen Clemens were due to compete for the Jets job. Anticlimactically (or mercifully for anybody sick of hearing about Green Bay this past month), Brett Favre arrived in town, relegating Clemens to the no.2 role and Pennington to unemployment before a ball was ever thrown. New no.3 Brett Ratliff had a spectacular evening for the Jets, 14 of 20 for 252 yards and two scores of over 70 yards. Like anybody noticed.

A next QB battle is to be found in Chicago, where the Bears enjoy (if that's the word) Rex Grossman v Kyle Orton, a face–off Chicago probably should have resolved two years ago. It wasn't resolved Thursday night — or even advanced noticeably. Undrafted rookie Caleb Hanie threw almost as many passes as both combined.

The Baltimore Ravens have a much more complicated situation to resolve, Steve McNair's retirement leaving unconvincing Kyle Boller atop the charts, with former Heisman winner Troy Smith and first round pick Joe Flacco counting the minutes until Boller slides. However, Boller didn't slide, going 11 of 15 for 102 yards, while Smith failed to hit .500 and Flacco missed on his three passes.

In Cleveland, Derek Anderson did nothing to undermine his starting status over Brady Quinn, going 4 of 5 with a touchdown. Quinn showed his quality too, 13 of 17 for 133 yards, but right now, Derek Anderson would need to unravel significantly over several regular season weeks to lose his job to Quinn. As with so many other teams 'the future' remains the bench–warmer for now.

Better competitions were to be found when the Giants and Lions met, with some jostling down below the starters. Should anything happen to Eli Manning, New York has to know whether former overall No.1 pick David Carr or journeyman Anthony Wright is the guy. Wright went 9 of 13 for 116 yards, while Carr went 10 of 13 for 104 (and predictably, two sacks, including the one that ended a close game). Detroit's Jon Kitna is coming off back–to–back 4,000 yard seasons, leaving last year's second–rounder Drew Stanton and Dan Orlovsky to squabble over relief duty for now. Neither made a move Thursday, but Kitna will be 36 this season, and took a lot of sacks last year, so somebody had better get ready.

Thus the QB battles began. So far, though, no war is won, and in some cases barely an opening salvo. And that was Quarterback Thursday. Next: Running Back Friday.

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