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 FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) -The Atlanta Falcons signed former Jacksonville quarterback Byron Leftwich on Tuesday, giving the team immediate depth and a potential contender for the starting job.
Leftwich's agent, Tom Condon, said the former first-round draft pick passed a physical, worked out for the team and signed a two-year, $7 million deal.
``He's very pleased to be in Atlanta, for whatever role they have in mind,'' Condon said. ``At this time of year, at the time Byron was released, it makes it difficult for teams, because clearly he is a starting caliber quarterback. Nevertheless, it's going to take a period of time before he learns the offense.
``Byron is an extremely bright guy. I think it will happen relatively quickly.''
Condon said the 27-year-old Leftwich already was studying film and would join the team for Wednesday's practice.
The Falcons needed help. Harrington, who took over as the starter when Michael Vick was suspended by the NFL, has lost his first two starts with Atlanta and the offense has scored only 10 points.
Harrington's current backups are Chris Redman, who has not played in an NFL game since 2003, and Casey Bramlet, whose only professional experience came in Europe.
The Falcons did not immediately confirm the signing of Leftwich or announce a roster move to clear a spot for the new quarterback.
Vick was suspended indefinitely last month following his guilty plea on a dogfighting charge. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 10.
Leftwich was cut by Jacksonville in a surprise preseason move when the Jaguars chose David Garrard as their starter. Ankle and knee problems have prevented Leftwich, who was taken seventh overall in 2003, from completing a full season recently. He missed 15 games the past two years.
Harrington has been sacked 13 times, and coach Bobby Petrino said Monday the quarterback is holding the ball too long and showing a lack of confidence in his play.
``I think right now Joey is playing a little bit conservative, a little bit not to throw the interception,'' Petrino said. ``Therefore it is causing him to hold the ball. He just needs to open it up more with confidence and play to go win the game.''
Harrington was 12-for-20 passing for 200 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions in a 13-7 loss to Jacksonville on Sunday.

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