Good to hear Derek still in NFL

Quarterback signed to mentor young quarterbacks on team
by: Self-portrait Sports Editor John Brewington

Derek Anderson didn't have any doubts back in June when he was in Scappoose for his annual youth football camp. He wasn't going to be in Arizona this season. He said that the Arizona Cardinals had already told him that he wouldn't be back and he had his house on the market.

However, nothing was official yet, while the players and owners bargained over a new contract. With the players locked out most of the season not much was going on, at least publicly regarding free agents, signing draft choices, or anything else.

Anderson thought he would be picked up but wasn't really sure which team it would be.

Last week the CBA was agreed too, and teams started scrambling to fill positions with free agents, signing rookies and getting their practices under way. It's not an easy task-the preseason starts in just two weeks.

For Anderson, the lockout may have proven something of a blessing. Teams need experienced veterans to start the season. Most of the rookie quarterbacks hadn't even seen a playbook.

Anderson was courted by the Carolina Panthers, had a good interview, and just needed to pass a physical to make the team. He isn't allowed to work out until Aug. 4, but that is all right.

Carolina had the first pick in the draft and chose Cam Newton. You know, the quarterback that helped Auburn beat Oregon in the college national championship game. He got around $22 million as the No. 1 pick.

The rub on Newton is that he doesn't fit the typical NFL quarterback mold-he's a scrambler from the spread offense that throws well on the run. Whether that becomes a new model for the NFL or whether he transitions well into the pro-style system remains to be seen.

That's where Anderson comes in. He was hired to be a mentor to the young quarterback, and be a back up if he's injured. It didn't hurt his chances that the new offensive coordinator is Rob Chudzinski, the same guy Anderson had in Cleveland when he had his pro bowl year.

It's a new offense for most of the team, but Anderson knows it well and it could help him. Rookie quarterbacks have a way of struggling for at least a year in the NFL. Whether Newton can break that frequent pattern is still a question mark.

Time is very short to get ready for the season, and learning a new offense with many new players is going to be problematic.

Whether the Panthers want to risk their new expensive rookie remains to be seen. Head coach Ron Rivera says it's a competition for the position, giving Anderson something of an advantage because of experience. How the team uses the preseason games is also up in the air. Typically a team will use their No. 1 QB in just a quarter or two in preseason games, then bring in their second and third-string quarterbacks for the rest of the evening. They also don't want to risk their starters much. With a lot of the players not really in great shape it's also a question how much they will play in the early games as well.

So it's really all good for Scappoose's favorite son-a good chance, a new start, and many things working in his favor. One thing is for certain, barring injury he will get some playing time. Just how much is anyone's guess at this point.