Aug 112010

August 11 Philadelphia Daily News columnist John Smallwood

“If Mike Kafka really wants to understand the benefits of being the backup quarterback for the Eagles, he should call Koy Detmer and A.J. Feeley.

Detmer was drafted in 1997 by the Eagles and lasted with the team through the 2006 preseason.

Despite having a primary role as the holder for placekicker David Akers, Detmer earned about $10 million and qualified for the NFL pension in a decadelong career that featured eight starts, 10 touchdown passes and 14 interceptions.

But if Kafka, whom the Eagles selected in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, aspires to be more than a career clipboard-holder, he ought to do some serious talking with Feeley.

Feeley is the optimal result of the Eagles’ plan when they draft a developmental quarterback.

With Donovan McNabb just entering his tenure as the Eagles’ starter and Detmer established as his backup, the Birds selected Feeley in the fifth round of the 2001 draft. They didn’t draft him to be McNabb’s heir or even his long-term backup.

They picked Feeley to develop him, hoping that he eventually would show enough to earn them more value in a trade.

During the 2002 season, both McNabb and Detmer got hurt and Feeley ended up starting the final five games. The Birds won four and advanced to the playoffs.

Feeley didn’t play a snap in 2003, but the memory of what he had done in 2002 was enough for the Miami Dolphins to trade their 2004 second-round pick to the Eagles for him.

Obviously, it worked for the Eagles, because they turned a fifth-round pick into a second-rounder.

But it also worked for Feeley, because it gave him an opportunity to prove himself as a starting quarterback.

It didn’t work out, but that doesn’t change the fact that he created a chance for himself.

With 25-year-old Kevin Kolb newly anointed as the Eagles starting quarterback and veteran Mike Vick as the backup, it’s easy to figure that drafting Kafka was similar to the thought process behind drafting Feeley.

Not that Kafka has given too much thought about 3 or 4 years down the road, because right now he just wants to show enough in training camp to make sure he holds on to that roster spot the Eagles have reserved for him.

“We really haven’t had that discussion,” Kafka said when asked about the Eagles’ long-range plans for him. “Right now, they’ve just thrown me into the fire, and I’m running the offense and doing the best I can.

“I’m learning, and I’m learning fast. They’ve put me in a position to just go out there, make some plays, make some mistakes, learn from the experience and grow as a quarterback.””

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