QB carousels on high
The Falcons are going back to Joey Harrington after Byron Leftwich's high ankle sprain and surgery. The Ravens are trying to get Steve McNair back from his groin injury. Arizona is making sure Kurt Warner is OK after he played with torn ligaments in his left elbow.
Of the 26 teams playing this week, eight have some kind of quarterback question mark. The Jets are staying with Chad Pennington even though it's likely that a slow start could send him to the bench. Alex Smith (49ers), Vince Young (Titans) and David Carr (Panthers) are coming back off injuries and appear ready to regain their starting jobs. Houston's Matt Schaub completed most of Wednesday's practice and should be able to play against the Chargers despite a bad hip and multiple other injuries.
Tarvaris Jackson didn't do as much as expected because of the broken right index finger Wednesday so it's growing more likely Kelly Holcomb will start for the Vikings against the Eagles. The most interesting situation is in Oakland where Josh McCown (broken toe) is now healthy enough to compete against Daunte Culpepper for the starting quarterback's job.
McCown worked mostly with the scout team for the Raiders Wednesday and is planning to use Thursday to ramp up his bid to get back the starting job. Lane Kiffin isn't committing to a starting quarterback yet even though Culpepper handled most of the first-team snaps Wednesday.
Jags pay price: The Jaguars' Quinn Gray is taking over for David Garrard, who is out a month with a high ankle sprain. Even though it didn't seem apparent when the Jaguars got off to a 4-1 start with Garrard as the starting quarterback, now the Jaguars and Jack Del Rio are paying the price for cutting Leftwich.
Del Rio cut Leftwich less than two weeks before the start of the regular season. While Garrard wasn't negatively affected by not getting the offseason and training camp to work as the starting quarterback, the price the Jaguars paid is not having a backup quarterback who is ready. Gray takes over at the worst possible time. The Jaguars lost to the Colts and now he will have to start three consecutive road games against the Bucs, Saints and Titans. The Jaguars averaged only 17.8 points per game under Garrard. That number was below playoff levels, but now the offense could move even further backward.
Odd-man out: One Raider who is having a hard time fitting in is halfback Dominic Rhodes. He missed the first four games with a suspension. Since coming back in October, he's had only nine carries for 21 yards and has publicly expressed disappointment about how he's being used. Last week, Kiffin used him as a kickoff returner, which is a little unusual for a veteran running back who is angling for a chance to start. If Michael Bush, who is coming off a broken leg from college, could ever be healthy enough to come off the physically unable to perform list, Rhodes might not be a Raider for long.
San Diego stays classy: The Chargers' front office and ownership learned from how they handled the California fires of four years ago. In 2003, the Chargers stayed in the area and practiced in a gymnasium. This year, they moved their operation to Phoenix and practiced at the Cardinals' facility.
Ownership set up an 800 number for families to check in on things. The coaches let players bring their families to Phoenix or helped them get their families out of San Diego for safety. Hotel arrangements were made by the team. It was first class. The Chargers lost the game following the fires in 2003. Even though football might be the last thing on players' mind, the way the Chargers' organization handled the crisis could pay off on the field.
Another thing the Chargers did correctly was give the city of San Diego every chance to host Sunday's game against the Texans. Having a game on Sunday could be a welcome diversion for Chargers fans. It would also give the players and coaches a chance to come home to see if their homes are damaged. So far, no member of the Chargers organization has lost a residence.
Grady available: Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jackson cleared waivers and is available on the free-agent market. His signing with a team won't necessarily be a money issue. He walked away from the Falcons with $1.75 million because Atlanta had to pay his full salary since he was on the team when the regular season started. Vested veterans get guaranteed base salaries once they make a team.
Among the teams that are interested are the Colts and the Titans. The Raiders could also be interested in bringing him back. They drafted him out of college. It would also be interesting to see if the Broncos are interested because of the way they are trying to beef up the defensive line.