Skip to main content

Cowboys backup QB McGee likely to start for ailing Kitna

IRVING, Texas -- Jon Kitna will be the starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys in their finale Sunday if his strained abdominal muscle heals enough.

That's not likely, so second-year backup Stephen McGee probably will make his first career start.

"We have to see what Jon's availability is throughout the practice week and see what he is able to do," interim coach Jason Garrett said Monday. "Can he play? Can he practice well enough to play in this game on Sunday? So that's the No. 1 consideration. If he's not able to do that, we will play Stephen. But if he's able to do that, Jon will be our quarterback."

The Cowboys believe an injured Kitna would give them a better chance to beat Philadelphia than a healthy McGee.

Kitna has gone 4-5 since replacing Tony Romo and has been hailed for his leadership. His stats are on par with Romo's.

But Kitna is 38. The Cowboys already are planning on him being Romo's backup next season. So why not start McGee against the Eagles no matter what, just to find out what they have -- especially because Kitna certainly won't be at full strength?

"There's probably a lot of different reasons," Garrett said. "We just feel like it's best to give Jon a chance to come back and play if he is healthy enough to do it."

McGee made his NFL debut Saturday night after Kitna was hurt during the second quarter against Arizona. He rallied the Cowboys from an 11-point deficit to a late lead, only to see the defense blow it in the final seconds. He completed 11 of 17 passes and didn't turn the ball over.

His biggest concern was not fumbling his first snap. The more he played, the better he felt. To appreciate how much of a step up in competition this was, he hadn't played a game that counted since he was at Texas A&M, and he'd never thrown to Jason Witten and Miles Austin.

He'd had only three series with the first-team offense, despite being the No. 2 guy the past nine weeks.

"Being out there and playing, getting those snaps, those are priceless, a confidence boost," McGee said. "Hey, I've got that out of the way. I've taken snaps. I've played. There are a lot of plays from that game I can draw from and use this week to really focus on and get better."

Dallas added another quarterback Monday, signing Chris Greisen to the practice squad.

Greisen is 34 and has never taken a snap in the NFL although he was Arizona's No. 3 quarterback from 1999 to 2001. He spent a few weeks on Washington's practice squad in 2002 and has since played in NFL Europe, two arena leagues and the United Football League. One of his Arena League teams was the Cowboys-owned Desperados.

When Kitna was hurt, Greisen thought there was a remote chance he might get a call from the Cowboys. He actually missed it while at a Christmas party. Dallas' pro scouting coordinator Will McClay -- Greisen's coach on the Desperados -- left a message.

"I had to call him back," Greisen said, laughing. "He said, 'I have a proposition for you: Do you want to become a Cowboy?' I said, 'Heck, yeah.' It was a great, great surprise."

The Cowboys could move Greisen up to the active roster if Kitna is unable to play Sunday.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.