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Chase Daniel vows to compete in three-quarterback town

Chase Daniel is, quite literally, the quarterback in the middle of Sam Bradford and Carson Wentz, at least in the locker room.

Chase Daniel is, quite literally, the quarterback in the middle of Sam Bradford and Carson Wentz, at least in the locker room.

He's sandwiched in between the current starter and the presumptive future starter on the depth chart. His locker stall splits the two, with Bradford to his left and Wentz to his right. Daniel is the forgotten figure in the Eagles' quarterback drama, and yet, his role may be just as essential over the next two years.

The veteran is to be Bradford's backup, Wentz's teacher, and quite possibly, the stopgap starter if one of several variables were to happen. Considering the circumstances, there might not be a quarterback better equipped to handle those responsibilities and possible scenarios.

Daniel has virtually done it all during his NFL career, and although he signed with the Eagles this offseason with the assurance that he could compete with Bradford, and his competitiveness won't allow him to concede any job, the 29-year-old quarterback has no delusions about his fate.

"There's a reason they brought me here. It wasn't necessarily to just sit on the bench and not push people for starting jobs," Daniel said Tuesday. "But I think there's a fine line there. I'm a professional. I've been in about every situation you could possibly be in. . . . So I have a clear view of what's expected of me and the funny thing is I expect even more out of myself."

Daniel had, it could be argued, just as much reason as Bradford to be upset after the Eagles traded up for Wentz. His spot in the pecking order is also in jeopardy, and likely sooner with the rookie on his heels. Backup quarterbacks have little leverage to request trades, but rather than skip workouts as Bradford did for two weeks, Daniel simply ran the first-team offense in the starter's place.

"Everybody handles their business a little differently," Daniel said. "My thought process was, 'Hey, it's awesome. They're bringing a guy in.' That's the story of my career. I've always had to fight for everything I've had. Not saying that Sam hasn't . . . just for me it was a welcome competition."

Daniel hasn't been handed anything since he entered the NFL as an undersized rookie in 2009. It's probably why he didn't bat an eye after Wentz was drafted - unlike Bradford, who was selected first overall and has been given repeated chances to live up to that billing.

Undrafted, Daniel was cut by the Redskins after his first training camp. He wound up on the Saints practice squad and was released three times only to be brought back a week or so later that year. He ultimately made the 53-man roster in 2010 and served as Drew Brees' backup for the next three seasons.

Daniel then signed with the Chiefs in 2013 and served behind Alex Smith for the next three years. He spelled Smith for two starts and went .500. But he earned Doug Pederson's trust, and when the former Chiefs offensive coordinator got the Eagles coaching gig, he brought Daniel with him to Philadelphia.

All eyes were on Bradford and Wentz on Tuesday during their first practice together, but it was Daniel who ran the offense the most efficiently - and understandably so.

"I would definitely call myself an expert in this offense when you're in it for three years and sort of help build it in Kansas City," Daniel said.

The Eagles' financial commitment to Daniel suggests that they view him more than just as a backup. He signed a three-year contract with $12 million guaranteed. He has one more year and $1 million more guaranteed in year No. 2 than Bradford, which could be one reason he didn't have the same visceral reaction to the Wentz trade.

Daniel will aid both quarterbacks as they study the intricacies of Pederson's West Coast-based offense, but Wentz will have the most to learn. Bradford, who spoke for the first time since his trade request, said that he would do everything he could to help the rookie.

That remains to be seen. But even if Bradford's intentions are sincere, he won't likely have as much time to mentor Wentz. Daniel should.

"I'm going to learn a lot from him," Wentz said of Daniel. "I'm going to stay close with him and try and learn and soak up as much as I can."

The similarities between the Daniel-Wentz combination and when Andy Reid brought Pederson with him from Green Bay before drafting Donovan McNabb in 1999 are obvious, but there are also differences. No. 1, Daniel won't start and, No. 2, Pederson doesn't plan on playing Wentz right away - either in a limited role or if Bradford were to get hurt.

"That's hard to say when I've got Chase Daniel sitting there," Pederson said.

Despite his confidence in Daniel, or the inevitability of Wentz, or questions about Bradford's mental state, Pederson didn't open the quarterback competition on Tuesday. He reiterated that Bradford was the starter, Daniel the backup and Wentz the project.

"There's no spots handed out in May," Daniel said to the contrary.

He may not carry a big stick - he's listed as 6-foot - but Daniel has a quarterback's swagger.

"He's got a moxie to him where he's confident in himself," center Jason Kelce said. "He's confident in this system."

Daniel's bravado stands in contrast to the reserved Bradford. But he doesn't have his arm or size - or Wentz's - and that is primarily why he is the middleman between the present and the future. He's accepted his destiny, but he also believes you make your own luck.

"There's a long way to go," Daniel said. "I'm going to continue to push Sam. Carson's going to continue to push us. And that's how it should be and that's how it will be."