Former Tulsa quarterback G.J. Kinne is a long shot to make the Philadelphia Eagles' 53-man roster, but training camp experience might help him stay in the NFL.
One of five quarterbacks in camp, Kinne hopes to lead the Eagles' offense at least one series in Philadelphia's preseason opener Friday night against New England.
“Getting on film is a big thing,” Kinne said in a telephone interview with The Oklahoman. “Last year, I didn't have any preseason film so that really hurt me. If I can get in a couple of preseason games I feel confident in my ability.”
An undrafted rookie free agent last year, Kinne spent the spring and summer months with the New York Jets. Cut days before training camp, Kinne played with the Omaha Nighthawks in the United Football League and the San Antonio Talons in the Arena Football League.
“After that, I just hung out waiting for a call,” Kinne said. “I finally got a call in February from the Eagles.”
“Getting on film” is an audition for the other 31 NFL teams. Sometimes a team is looking for a practice team quarterback.
Former Oklahoma State quarterback Zac Robinson was drafted by New England. The Patriots cut him, but Robinson has spent the past three seasons on the Seahawks, Lions and Bengals practice squads.
“I know I won't get a ton of reps,” Kinne said. “But when I get in I'll try to make the most of it. I'm basically trying to learn as much as possible and show teams what I'm capable of.”
Former Pro Bowler Michael Vick tops the Eagles' depth chart. Nick Foles, the Arizona product who took over the starting job in December, set Philadelphia rookie passing records for completions and yards.
The Eagles will keep three quarterbacks, the other most likely Matt Barkley, the USC rookie selected in the fourth round. The other quarterback in camp is Dennis Dixon. The former Oregon star started two games for the Steelers in 2010 but has passed for only 402 yards in five seasons.
Kinne has an NFL arm. Some draft gurus labeled him a sleeper entering the 2012 draft, a possible late-round pick.
A three-year starter at Tulsa, Kinne finished second in school history in passing yards and touchdowns.
Kinne was the Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year his junior season. After his senior season, Kinne was named MVP of the revived NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, which featured 100 of the NFL Draft's top prospects.
“He has a good enough arm,” said an NFC scout. “He has some things that need a little work, but quarterbacks with less talent have made it (on a practice squad).”
Kinne's career began at Texas. Some Longhorn fans lament the best quarterback on campus got away when Kinne transferred to Tulsa after his redshirt freshman season.
What are Kinne's options if/when the Eagles cut him?
“I could do Canada. I've been offered some stuff up there,” Kinne said. “But I feel I really have a shot to be on an NFL team this year. I have a good feeling about this.”
There's already been one highlight. Kinne's father was in Philadelphia's camp in 1990. When G.J. grew up in the Dallas area the Kinne household was huge Donovan McNabb fans.
“(Last month) I got to see Donovan McNabb retire at the facility,” Kinne said. “That was really cool.”
He hopes it will be a few years down the road, but at some point Kinne will transition to coaching in college.
“Hopefully I wouldn't have to go the G.A. route,” Kinne said. “Hopefully my experience here (in the NFL) and working with four different head coaches would help.”
During his four seasons at TU, Kinne played under two head coaches and four offensive coordinators.
In addition to Bill Blankenship taking over the Golden Hurricane program, Gus Malzahn is Auburn's new head coach; Todd Graham is head coach at Arizona State; and Jack Morris is Clemson's offensive coordinator.
“All those guys have a lot of connections,” Kinne said. “When I become a coach, hopefully I could start out coaching quarterbacks and move up from there.”
But Kinne's immediate goal is to spend the 2013 season with an NFL team.
“A lot of times it's opportunity and timing,” Kinne said. “I don't know what the future holds. Every day I'm here it's a blessing.”