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Quarterback peek?

Davey may get his chance

FOXBOROUGH -- Quick, name Peyton Manning's backup in Indianapolis.

Jim Sorgi, a rookie from Wisconsin, doesn't roll off the tongue, does it?

Outside of Patriots fans, football observers would have just as much trouble coming up with Tom Brady's backup -- Rohan Davey.

For Sorgi, it's Year 1 as an understudy to Manning. Davey is in his third year as a backup to Brady. The only time Davey gets mentioned is in training camp and preseason. And, of course, in a mopup role.

Davey might get playing time in Sunday's regular-season finale against the San Francisco 49ers at Gillette Stadium.

"Yeah, I hope to get in there a little bit," he said. "We're going through the game like we would any game. I definitely hope to get a chance. If I don't, I'll just keep learning and preparing for the next one."

Davey has been getting a few more repetitions in practice this week, likely a sign he will get a chance to play.

Davey realizes his playing time with the Patriots will be limited -- Brady hasn't missed a start since taking over for the injured Drew Bledsoe in Game 2 of the 2001 season.

Davey has appeared in three games this season -- he's 3 for 6 for 44 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions -- and he's 7 for 15 for 78 yards in three seasons with the Patriots. He was the NFL Europe's offensive player of the year in 2004, throwing a league-high 19 touchdown passes in 10 regular-season games. He led the Berlin Thunder to the World Bowl championship.

Three years of offensive coordinator Charlie Weis's tutelage has made him more comfortable, and game plans have become easier to understand.

Davey is the only quarterback in Louisiana State history to throw for more than 3,000 yards (3,347 in 2001), and he closed out his career by passing for 444 yards and three touchdowns in a 47-34 win over Illinois in the 2001 Sugar Bowl. He was named the game's MVP.

But his role hasn't changed in the pros, much like the Patriots' system.

"This is my third year in the system and basically it's been like a progression," said Davey. "You study the game plan and study the playbook. Before, it was going out and executing it without doing so much of the thinking part of it. Now, it's about anticipation and making plays."

Davey the understudy has taken a philosophical approach to his role.

"You got a guy in front of you like No. 12, it's hard to get on the field," he said. "That's all right because he's playing well and we're doing well. He's a great mentor to me and I appreciate everything he's taught me. Whenever I go out there, it's a reflection of our group, just as every time he goes out there, it's a reflection on all of us. So you always want to play well."

At 26, the 6-foot-2-inch, 245-pound Jamaican-born quarterback, who is bigger than some of the team's linebackers, said he doesn't feel time is passing him by.

"You hear stories of guys who have been in the league five years, six years before they get their chance to play full time," he said. "I think time would be passing me by if I wasn't learning. If I were in a system where I wasn't learning, or I wasn't being taught enough, or I didn't have a guy like Tom to learn from, then yeah, I'd be wasting my time and time would be passing me by."

Davey, a fourth-round pick (No. 177) of the Patriots in the 2002 NFL Draft -- 22 spots higher than Brady, who was taken in the sixth round of the 2000 draft -- stays sharp by working hard in practice, in the classroom, and simulating the game plan. Practice reps are usually few and far between, unless Brady needs a break from throwing.

"One of the biggest things is going through the game plan and applying it to what you're trying to do in practice. When you're not getting reps, watching Tom, watching the looks that they [the defense] show, and taking it from the classroom to the field and executing that part of it [is important]," he said.

Weis says the playbook is the same for everyone, but certain plays could be used for the mobile Davey that might not be suitable for Brady.

"I'm sure some of the plays would be different," Davey said. "They'd probably use more things more suited to my abilities. The game plan would be the same but there would be a couple of different wrinkles."

Davey's college coach, Nick Saban, is the Dolphins' head man now. Would Saban be interested in his old QB when Davey is ready to spread his wings and go elsewhere? Davey laughed at the possibility, but he said, "Coach Saban is a great coach. I think once the players down there see what he brings, they'll love playing for him. He'll make them better."

Any time a backup such as Davey gets on the field, the league is watching, evaluating his poise, arm strength, and grasp of the system. Every time Davey plays, he knows it could lead to an opportunity, a chance to start -- anywhere.

So Davey will be prepared for the opportunity that might come Sunday, and use it as another line in his resume.

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