No guarantees with young NFL quarterbacks

Baylor University quarterback Robert Griffin III walks off the field after playing against the...

Baylor University quarterback Robert Griffin III walks off the field after playing against the Washington Huskies at the Valero Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, Tex., Dec. 29, 2011. (JOE MITCHELL/Reuters)

BILL LANKHOF, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:56 PM ET

TORONTO - When it comes to quarterbacks, National Football League general managers are like little kids.

Put a shiny, new bauble in front of them and whatever they’ve been playing with is soon forgotten.

The road to the NFL draft is littered each season with the misspent careers of former quarterbacks-of-the-future whose time never quite seemed to arrive.

And, so it is with the latest new charms, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. In their wake the quarterback turnstile will begin to turn once again.

From Art Schlichter to JaMarcus Russell; from Matt Leinart to Tim Couch, the road from unforgettable to forgotten can be short and jarring. So it is that as attention shifts to the NFL combine that a couple more of yesterday’s heros are facing a potential early exit from the main stage.

In Cleveland Colt McCoy is facing the Griffin steam-roller.

The Carolina Panthers and Miami Dolphins are both pondering whether to cut ties with quarterbacks in whom they once believed. The Panthers are looking for cap room and could find some by releasing Jimmy Clausen, who went from starter to No. 3 behind first-round draft pick Cam Newton, and Derek Anderson.

Clausen is due a roster bonus of $923,000 in March. That’s fine if he’s the backup; but too much to pay somebody who is No. 3 on the depth chart.

Meanwhile, the Dolphins aren’t expected to offer former second-round pick Chad Henne a new contract, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Henne got off to the best start of his career in 2011 but separated his shoulder in Week 4. He had surgery and Matt Moore took over, leading Miami to six wins.

“I love being down here, and hopefully I get another opportunity,” Henne said. “If not, I’ll try my luck elsewhere.”

Meantime, elsewhere, the new kids on the block are prepping for this week’s combine and their pro days.

Luck, the projected No. 1 overall pick, has been training with quarterback guru George Whitfield, who also worked with Newton, last year’s No. 1 pick. Whitfield is headed to Palo Alto, Calif., to work with Luck for three more weeks before his pro day on March 22.

“This is refinement not an installation or a surgery,” Whitfield said. “It’s about getting reps and he’s really a marvel to watch. Very sound. Very consistent. Physically impressive. A power guy. A strong guy which people underestimate. One thing we’ve been doing is working on ... throws outside the hash marks.”

Griffin hasn’t given up hopes of going No. 1 in the draft but is smart enough to know that ultimately this isn’t a competition between himself and Luck.

“When we step into the NFL, we’re not going to be the No. 1 and No. 2 quarterbacks in the league,” Griffin said. “We’ll be more like No. 31 and No. 32. So while there may be a competition there, we’re both going to come in with a lot to learn.”

And, the first thing they’ll learn is that the difference between being the next Jimmy Clausen, or the next Tim Tebow, can be a matter of the slimmest circumstance. Griffin seems to have an inkling of the fickle nature of his profession.

“This is a business trip,” Griffin said of the combine. “I’m the CEO of Griffin Enterprises. It’s my job to go sell my product.”

CHRISTIAN CHARITY

Brady Quinn is apologizing to Tim Tebow for unflattering comments he made in a GQ Magazine article.

Quinn was quoted as saying: “We’ve had a lot of, I guess, luck, to put it simply.” He also said he felt the fans were the reason Tebow leapfrogged him on the depth chart and that the way Tebow expresses his faith doesn’t “seem very humble to me.”

Both men are Christians.

Quinn said on Twitter that the comments did not reflect his opinion of Tebow. Tebow “deserves a lot of credit for our success and I’m happy for him and what he accomplished. Most importantly, he is a great teammate,” Quinn wrote.

On the plus side, the apology did prove that, when called upon, Quinn still knows how to call a good audible.

QUICK HITS

Linebackers Keith Brooking and Bradie James are unlikely to be offered contracts by Dallas ... The 49ers have signed long snapper Ryan Pontbriand, formerly of the Browns. Where that leaves current Pro Bowl long snapper Brian Jennings is interesting to everyone except, perhaps, Brian Jennings ... The Bengals are expected to part with Cedric Benson. He’s coming of three 1,000-yard seasons but at 30 scouts don’t believe he breaks tackles like he once did. Questioning the offensive play-calling also hasn’t endeared him to management ... The Titans are interested in Colts’ free agent pass rusher Robert Mathis ... Seven months after he was arrested for drunk driving, Hines Ward has pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of reckless driving. He will get probation, a $2,000 fine and 80 hours of community service.

POOR WEAVER

Leonard Weaver is limping proof that when it comes to a retirement plan, a football players’ last play can be his next play.

Weaver was a Pro Bowl fullback in 2009 with the Eagles. On his first carry in 2010, he was hit in the knee as he planted his foot.

His leg went left, his body went right and everyone cringed.

“That was the worst pain I’ve ever felt. I’ve never been shot, but I’ll tell you what, it had to be worse,” Weaver said. “It was just all up and down my leg, up and down my back, this burning sensation. It was like somebody lit a match and it went all over my body, and it just continued. It was crazy ... I remember crying, loud, asking God why. Why am I here?”

Weaver suffered a torn ACL, a torn posterolateral corner and nerve damage. He has had three surgeries and a year and a half later the injury likely has ended his career.

He is 27. “My heart is to come back ... but right now, no. I can’t run like I used to.


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