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Bengals sign QB Jordan Palmer to back up brother Carson Palmer

CINCINNATI -- Jordan Palmer was packed for Phoenix, ready to take his career to the Arena Football League, when he got a most unusual offer.

The Cincinnati Bengals wanted to know if he would like to try to earn a spot as his brother's backup. They didn't have to wait long for an answer.

He signed a two-year deal Wednesday that will give him a chance to play behind his brother, quarterback Carson Palmer. Although brother tandems have been common in the NFL, it's rare that two of them get to throw passes for the same team.

"Someday we'll look back and laugh about it and think it was pretty cool," Jordan said in a phone interview.

It's certainly unusual.

There have been dozens of brother tandems on NFL teams. Akin and Remi Ayodele in Dallas, Chris and Nic Clemons in Washington, Jake Reed and Dale Carter in New Orleans, Andre and Kevin Dyson in Tennessee are recent examples.

Having two brothers at quarterback is rare. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, no brothers have played quarterback for the same team during the Super Bowl era. Koy Detmer was on injured reserve for Philadelphia while his brother, Ty, played for the Eagles in 1997.

The Bengals have had two sets of brothers play at the same time: Jim and Ross Browner in 1979-80, and Ray and Archie Griffin from 1978-83.

So far, Carson Palmer has had the more accomplished career, winning the Heisman Trophy at Southern California before becoming the No. 1 overall pick in the 2003 draft. He led the Bengals to the playoffs in 2005 before a severe knee injury temporarily set him back.

Jordan Palmer, who is five years younger, set school records at Texas-El Paso by throwing for 11,084 yards and 88 touchdowns. Washington drafted him in the sixth round last year, and he played in one preseason game before being waived Sept. 1.

He stayed in shape and hoped to get another chance in the NFL. When that didn't come, he signed with the Arizona Rattlers and was about to head there when the Bengals made their offer.

Cincinnati already has a No. 2 quarterback: Ryan Fitzpatrick, obtained from St. Louis in a trade on Sept. 1. The third-string quarterback is Jeff Rowe, who was a fifth-round pick from Nevada last season.

Like other teams, the Bengals add a fourth quarterback for minicamps and training camp, giving them someone else to throw the ball during practice. If Jordan Palmer does well, he could win the No. 3 job or improve his chances of going to another NFL team instead of the Arena League.

"We both understand that this is a job," Jordan Palmer said. "We need to keep it very professional. The fact that we're brothers is something for on the side. My job is trying to make the team, which is different from his job as the starter."

The two of them understand there could be some awkward moments now that they're reunited in Cincinnati.

"If you've got two brothers and something happens on the team that's not positive, from not playing enough to getting cut or having an issue with somebody, you don't want it to spill over into their relationship with each other," their father, Bill Palmer, said in a phone interview. "You don't know how the other two quarterbacks will feel about it, both of whom Carson has a good relationship with.

"Jordan is just going to have to go in there and be cool about it. He's pretty good about it, though. He knows how to handle himself in that situation."

Besides spending time with his brother, Jordan Palmer figures he'll get to learn from one of the best.

"I know I'm biased, but I think pretty highly of him as a player," he said.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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