Kitna Plays Crucial Role As Backup

The importance of Jon Kitna goes far beyond the white lines on the field.

In 2003, Carson Palmer was drafted first overall by the Cincinnati Bengals. He did not play a down that season, as veteran Jon Kitna got the nod, posting over 3,500 yards passing and 26 touchdowns while leading the team to an 8-8 record, the team’s first non-losing season since 1996.
Kitna took home an NFL Comeback Player of the Year award for his efforts; no one knew it yet, but Palmer took home a wealth of knowledge from playing and practicing each day with a man he described as “a fantastic quarterback and person, who will expertly guide our offense during the off-season.”
Since then, Carson Palmer has come into his own, winning two Pro Bowl appearances and a FedEx Air Player of the Year award; Kitna, after a short layover in Detroit, has come to Dallas in order to remedy what was a regrettable backup quarterback situation in 2008.
The 36-year-old has already been lauded for his work with second-year tight end Martellus Bennett, and Roy Williams, a lightning rod of controversy since his arrival in Dallas. Williams’ only Pro Bowl appearance, in 2006, came with Jon Kitna as his quarterback.
But the greatest manifestation the trade that brought Kitna to Dallas in exchange for cornerback Anthony Henry may ultimately be its effect on Tony Romo.
Romo has yet to have a true mentor in Dallas.
The master-student relationship that Kitna and Palmer shared (and NFL coaches hope for) has never been present in Dallas with Romo at the helm. Drew Bledsoe and Brad Johnson, while certainly amiable to Romo, never expressly played a role in his maturation as a player.
When Kitna was acquired from the Lions in February, however, he made his intentions to help Tony Romo’s development clear. And, if Romo listens (and there’s no reason to think that he won’t), he could be in position to post his best season to date.
If you don’t believe me, just ask Carson Palmer.
"If Tony just follows what he says and listens to him, he's going to have a huge year," Palmer said this week in an interview with ESPN Radio. "I thought that was a great point that not a lot of people picked up on."

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