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G.J. Kinne, the Eagles' fifth-string quarterback seen here throwing a pass during training camp, said he's played special teams in high school and college. (USA Today Images)
With Michael Vick and Nick Foles receiving the lion’s share of the reps at quarterback, there have been few opportunities for G.J. Kinne to show what he has to offer during Eagles training camp.
So in order to make a name for himself, Kinne has embraced a role on special teams.
“I’m just trying to help the team win games,” Kinne said after Monday’s practice. “If it’s special teams, run down a kickoff, kickoff return, punt, punt return, I’m just doing whatever I can to help them in practice, and if they’ll put me in the game then I’m going to do it in the game.”
While the move may seem like an odd one on the surface, Kinne has experience playing various positions on special teams dating back to his time in high school.
“In high school I was a punt returner, punter, stuff like that,” Kinne said. “So I’m not doing punt returns but I’m doing some kickoff return and punt rush. I’m not very familiar with it, but obviously we have great coaches, so they’re helping me out.
“I did everything in high school and then even in college I punted some, so I’ve been versatile my whole life.”
The exposure on special teams has been good for Kinne, who said that the decision to bounce around between different positions was not forced.
“It was kind of a mutual thing,” Kinne said. “They just said they needed some help, we had some receivers down, and so it kind of turned into we just needed some bodies, and then I felt like I did a really good job at it in practice and so they’re going to give me some looks.”
Last Friday’s preseason opener against the Patriots marked the first time that Kinne, who threw for 9,472 yards and 81 touchdowns at the University of Tulsa, had stepped on an NFL field for game action. Kinne was cut by the Jets last June and then spent time in the UFL and AFL before landing with the Eagles.
Kinne entered Friday’s game with just 55 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, but capitalized on the few snaps he was given, completing his only two passes for a total of 60 yards.
It’s yet to be determined whether Kinne will see added reps in the Eagles’ second preseason game on Thursday against the Panthers, but the 24-year-old remains optimistic.
“You know I’m not sure [about receiving more reps in the second preseason game],” Kinne said. “I’m just coming out here, going to work every day, and I’m definitely hoping for more opportunities. I feel like I made the most of my time in the [Patriots] game.”
Although Kinne reiterated that he still considers himself a quarterback first, it’s clear that he isn’t going to make the final cut based on his play under center. Slotted behind fourth-stringer Dennis Dixon on the depth chart, Kinne is fighting the steepest of uphill battles to earn a roster spot.
“I don’t know [if I’ll wind up on special teams],” Kinne said. “I just know whenever they put me in there I’m going 100 percent, full speed and giving it my all, and hopefully they see that I can help them somehow.”
Kinne’s odds of making the 53-man roster remain slim, but he acknowledged that putting in work on special teams could make the decision a bit tougher for the Eagles’ coaching staff.
“The more I can do," he said, "it’s harder for them to let me go."