Why the Dolphins designated Henne third QB

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

The Miami Dolphins have designated Chad Henne as their No. 3 quarterback for Sunday's game against the Atlanta Falcons, even though he's really their primary backup to Chad Pennington.


Rookie quarterback Pat White actually is third on the depth chart, but if the Dolphins wanted to use him in any Wildcat schemes, they wouldn't have been able to put him on the field had they not declared Henne the No. 3.

I addressed this scenario in May, a few days after the Dolphins used a second-round draft pick to select White out of West Virginia. The Dolphins announced their intentions right away to keep the scrambler at quarterback and not convert him to receiver, as other teams were considering.

Here's what I wrote then:

In 1991, the NFL instituted a third-quarterback rule that allows teams to have an emergency quarterback in case the first two get hurt. This was done because teams had been trying to maximize their 45-man rosters by riskily carrying only two quarterbacks and keeping an extra player who could contribute on special teams.

The third quarterback doesn't count toward the 45-man roster, but if he is inserted into the game before the fourth quarter, then the first two quarterbacks are not allowed to go back in at any position.

That means the Dolphins would have to designate Henne their third quarterback so White could get on the field in the Wildcat.

There were some other notable decisions among the Dolphins' inactives. They scratched outside linebacker Cameron Wake, receiver Patrick Turner and guard Shawn Murphy.

Wake is the much-discussed Canadian Football League import who registered 39 sacks over the past two seasons with the BC Lions. He apparently hasn't adjusted to the NFL fast enough.

Turner, a third-round pick out of Southern California, was Mark Sanchez's top target last year.

Murphy, a fourth-round draft pick last year, still hasn't dressed for a game. The son of former baseball star Dale Murphy was given a shot to be the starting right guard in training camp, but Donald Thomas took it back.