After sitting out the 2004 season, Kittner is just happy to be back in football. Originally selected by the Falcons in the fifth round of 2002 draft, he’s had a hard time establishing himself in the NFL.
The six-foot-2, 211-pound Kittner admitted that his time in Atlanta could have been more productive. When Michael Vick went down in the 2003 preseason, Kittner got a chance to appear in 7 games and start four. He completed just 38.6 percent of his passes to go with a three to one interception (6) to touchdown (2) ratio.
“In Atlanta I got a chance to play, I didn’t play well,” Kittner said. “There’s no other way to put it and that’s the way things go.”
Following two years with the Falcons, Kittner had a series of short stints with Cincinnati, New York Giants, New England and Pittsburgh before suddenly being out of football.
“There was a lot of time where I was watching games on TV and stuff like that but it makes you want to get back on the field that much more,” Kittner said.
Kittner finally got another shot after the season, signing a one-year deal with Chicago.
The NFL Europe season started in similar fashion for Kittner, as he remained No. 2 on the depth chart until Gibran Hamdam went down with a season ending injury in Week 4.
Kittner took over the starting role for the final six games of the season, as Amsterdam went 4-2 during the stretch. He completed 54 percent of his passes for 1,472 yards with 9 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, but the most important stat from his point of view is that the Admirals will play in the World Bowl on Saturday against the Berlin Thunder.
“Right now we're playing in the championship game,” Kittner said. “We've been playing good football so hopefully we can keep that going.”
While Kittner’s 67.4 passer rating would fit in with the rest of the Bear quarterbacks, he’ll have to do better to make the 53-man roster.
“I played well in some games and not so well in some others, but as a whole I think it's been good,” Kittner said.
The team is currently carrying six quarterbacks, but it will be difficult to take more than four to training camp.
Kittner has an advantage over fellow NFL Europe allocation Ryan Dinwiddie and possibly Craig Krenzel, who turned down a chance to play in the league. He’s previously run the system that offensive coordinator Ron Turner has installed with the Bears.
“He spent five years in it so he’s got a real good feel for what we’re doing,” said Turner, who coached Kittner at Illinois. “It’s changed a little bit since he was there but not much, very minor. He’ll be able to pick it up that’ll definitely help him tremendously.”
Although Turner and Kittner haven’t talked since the quarterback went abroad, the teacher has kept an eye on his former pupil. With a three-touchdown game and a four-interception effort coming in consecutive weeks, it’s obvious what Kittner needs to strive for.
“Like any quarterback he needs to work on consistency. I think he’s a very accurate passer, real smart player, great feel for the game great instincts,” Turner said. “He doesn’t have great mobility, but he does have really good quickness and the ability to make the first guy miss. He has great pocket presence.”