Kinne gets one final shot to make impression with Eagles

Eagles quarterbacks G.J. Kinne and Matt Barkley. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)

DON'T BE FOOLED, because this contest is neither fair nor balanced.

The battle for the job as the Eagles' third-string quarterback is not there for G.J. Kinne to win. It is there for Matt Barkley to lose.

There is a reason why Barkley, the second-year hurler who was drafted in the fourth round of 2013 draft out of Southern California, was named as the starter for tonight's preseason finale against the New York Jets before practice this week had begun.

"This is a really good opportunity for [Barkley]," Eagles offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said. "He's able to know days in advance that he's starting, so he's out there preparing to play the Jets just like it's a regular-season game.


Is Malcolm Jenkins the safety the Eagles have been seeking since Brian Dawkins left?

"That's good for him and we'll be able to evaluate him in a really good way for a preseason game.

"He needs to play a good, efficient game at quarterback. I think he needs to go out and get completions. He needs to play a good, clean game, get the offense in the end zone and hopefully lead us to a victory."

And as for Kinne, the former Arena League quarterback who spent the latter part of last season on the Eagles' practice squad, Shurmur said, "G.J. will probably, yeah, he'll be the next guy in at some point during the game . . . Unfortunately, he's coming in in a backup role in this final game.

"He's a very athletic guy. I tell you, G.J. is a quick decision maker and he's got a good set of legs on him. So he can do a lot of things that we want to do offensively."

Barkley has a huge advantage.

This is the last chance for a lot of players to make this roster or lock down spots in the rotation, and Barkley gets to play with the ones whom the offensive coaching staff wants to evaluate the most.

Kinne, who might come in after the first half or third quarter or after however long the coaches want to look at Barkley, will play with the last-line guys running a game plan none will have really worked on.

There are only so many reps available in practice, and Kinne likely got few of them.

"I think I just go into it like I was the starter," said Kinne, who was signed by the Jets in 2012 as a rookie free agent out of Tulsa. "I try to do that every week, because you never know what might happen.

"I know it's just me and Barkley who are going, so I've got an opportunity to play a bit more, but, at the same time, every game I play, I try to prepare like I'm the starter."

Kinne is not the starter, and he knows it. He has a clear understanding of the situation he is in and the odds he is facing.

"I can't worry about things I can't control," he said. "When they tell me to go, whether it is one snap or 50 snaps, I just go out there and try to do my best.

"It's like [Eagles coach Chip Kelly] says, 'You can prove yourself with one snap or as many steps as you get in a game.' "

To the average fan, the job of third-string quarterback isn't that big a deal until you need him.

Primarily because of injuries last season to Nick Foles and Michael Vick, Barkley ended up seeing action in three games as a rookie.

Competent quarterbacks, whether they are starters, backup or third string, are always in demand in the NFL. A good performance by Kinne in itself might not be enough to take roster spot from Barkley, but it might be the thing that earns him a chance with another team, if it comes to that.

"Right now, I am performing for the Eagles," Kinne said. "But at the same time, 31 other teams get the film and then whatever happens can happen.

"I want to be here, but, at the same time, that is the truth of the situation."

It's a situation worth battling for.

And, frankly, if a player can accept that there will be few opportunities to have his ego stroked, the job as a backup quarterback is not a bad way to make a living.

Former Eagles quarterback Koy Detmer played a decade as a backup, mainly clutching a clipboard and acting as the preferred holder of kicker David Akers.

Not only did Detmer make in the neighborhood of $10 million, but, after he retired in 2007, he made more than $90,000 for practicing 3 days with the Minnesota Vikings.

There is a reason why virtually every former quarterback under 40 throws his name out there whenever any spot opens up.

"Sure, it's a hard way to try to have a career," Kinne said, "but at the same time, I am blessed to even have the opportunity to do this."