Summer is the time of year when backup quarterbacks get a chance to shine . . . and whine.
Bobby Hebert of New Orleans, Don McPherson of Philadelphia, Houston's Cody Carlson and Steve Beuerlein of the Los Angeles Raiders all are unhappy with their backup status and are not at training camp.Meanwhile, Tony Collins, reinstated earlier this month by the NFL after a two-year suspension as a two-time drug violator, agreed to a one-year contract with the Miami Dolphins and began workouts on Thursday.
Coach Jim Mora said as training camp opened that John Fourcade is listed as the starting quarterback, but made clear that the spot is still up for grabs.
Hebert, a starter for three years, is unsigned and says he no longer wants to play for the Saints. Fourcade beat him out with three games to go in last season, and the Saints won all three.
However, Mora said Hebert and Dave Wilson will be given a fair chance to win the starting job.
"As at all positions, we go in with a starter, and right now at quarterback John Fourcade is our starter," Mora said. "But everything is up for grabs, up for grabs every week, trying to get the best guy in there."
McPherson, expected to be Philadelphia's second-string quarterback until the signing of Jim McMahon last week, failed to show up at the team's preliminary camp on Thursday.
McPherson, a former star at Syracuse, gave no notice that he planned to miss the practice, team spokesman Ron Howard said.
McPherson, who was third-string last year behind Randall Cunningham and Matt Cavanaugh, has refused to comment since McMahon joined the team.
Carlson and the Oilers apparently are a long way from settling their contract dispute.
"It'll be Christmas before we get together," general manager Mike Holovak said of the negotiations. "I don't give it a chance right now because of the money, no way until they come down to my level."
Carlson, who has asked to be traded to a team where he'll have a chance to get more playing time, is one of 15 unsigned veterans and draft choices.
Now entering his fourth season, he got his most extensive playing time in 1988 when he started five games for Warren Moon, who was sidelined with a shoulder injury. Last season, Carlson completed 15 of 31 passes for 155 yards.
Beuerlein is one of nine Raiders unsigned as training camp opens today, but coach Art Shell is hoping all will show up.
"We're getting it done, hopefully, and they'll all be in here ready to compete," Shell said. "But there's always one or two that take a little longer."
The 31-year-old Collins, a former starter with New England, rushed for 1,049 yards in 1983 and made the Pro Bowl in 1983, but has been plagued by drug problems since then.
"He will be judged on a day-by-day, week-by-week basis," coach Don Shula said. "We made a decision to give him an opportunity based on his accomplishments as a player in the National Football League, and if he fulfills all our requirements, he has the opportuntity to compete for a position on our team."
Quarterback Tom Hodson, New England's third pick, is content to wait his turn while he learns his job from veterans Steve Grogan and Marc Wilson.
Patriots coach Rod Rust has said that the 36-year-old Grogan, a 16-year veteran, will compete with the 33-year-old Wilson, in his 11th year, for the starting job.