Kevin O'Connell throws during practice last October. (Matthew J. Lee / Globe Staff)
ESPN.com's Tim Graham writes on the Patriots' backup quarterback spot today, with comments from Scott Zolak (former Patriots backup), Mike Lombardi (National Football Post) and Matt Williamson (Scouts Inc.).
The question seems to be: Can the Patriots count on second-year man Kevin O'Connell?
Lombardi believes the Patriots need more time to answer that question.
"They haven't had a preseason to really evaluate their quarterbacks and this is the time, May and June, to see where they need to go," Lombardi said in the piece. "The course right now is to develop O'Connell and see where they are in the preseason and then make adjustments."
This topic had me retracing steps to July 31, 2007, when Bill Belichick was speaking about backup quarterbacks and specifically Matt Cassel. I remember it because Belichick seemed to like the line of questioning from reporter Albert Breer.
Belichick's comments, when applied to the current situation, reinforce Lombardi's view.
Here is the Q&A from that day:
Q: Do you see the ability from Matt Cassel to be a starting quarterback?
A: "I think when Matt has had the opportunity to play, I think he's done a pretty good job for us. That's a big step and until it happens, I don't know what exactly the answer to it is. We can all speculate, but Matt is a talented kid. He's smart. He works hard. He's gained a lot of experience since he's been here and he's a lot better quarterback than he was a little over two years ago when we got him. That's a credit to his hard work and perseverance and ability to take, not only coaching, but to probably learn from a player that's ahead of him who is pretty good himself. We have a lot of confidence in Matt. When he's gone into the game, heís done a good job for us."
Q: Just because of the nature of the position, and the nature of the spot that the backup quarterback is in, is the preseason even more important to that guy because he's not going to see playing time during the regular season if everything goes according to plan and maybe also to his future enhancing his value should he play for another team three years down the line?
A: "I think that's a good point. I think that's a fair point. I would say I would agree with that. If a player at that position didnít play in preseason, and he didn't get opportunity to play in the season, then he would never get a chance to play. These are his opportunities to play and practice and get more reps. Now that could change on one play, as we all know, during the regular season, which is why that position is so important, but if it doesn't change then thereís probably a good chance that it will be limited. I think what you said is accurate. Again, the problem is, you can only play one quarterback at a time. You want to try to get your first one ready. You want to try to get however many more else you have to have ready. There's only so many snaps, only so many plays, only so many quality plays and sometimes you have to make decisions there. You're not getting everything you want, but that's the way it is."