|Harrington, Petrino prepare to make Falcons debuts vs. Jets|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 09 August 2007 10:49|
With Vick facing federal dogfighting charges and ordered by the NFL to stay away from training camp, Joey Harrington will be under center when the Falcons open their preseason schedule against the New York Jets at the Meadowlands on Friday night.
``We're just trying to come together and rally behind Joey Harrington as our quarterback,'' tight end Alge Crumpler said. ``I understand everyone knows we are in a tough situation with Michael ultimately being out.''
While Vick and Harrington have completely opposite styles - one is perhaps the league's greatest running quarterback, while the other is one of the most stationary - the former Detroit and Miami signal caller is eager to run the Falcons' offense.
``It was a bit difficult to pick up initially,'' said Harrington, playing for his fifth head coach in seven years, Bobby Petrino. ``But now, it's great. I love it. It's by far my favorite offense I've played for in the NFL.''
And he'll get to show how much he enjoys it for a series or two against the Jets on Friday night.
``I think Joey is going to handle things well,'' running back Jerious Norwood said. ``He's a good leader. Everybody is pulling together around Joey. He's our quarterback as of now and we're going to keep moving forward.''
The game will be the first for Petrino as an NFL coach after four seasons at Louisville.
``I'm most nervous about not having a live scrimmage thus far,'' Petrino said. ``That is what the preseason is for, so it will be interesting to see how we do the first time tackling live.''
Petrino certainly didn't bank on not having his playmaking quarterback when he accepted the job. And Vick won't be the only one absent for the Falcons. Running back Warrick Dunn is still recovering from offseason back surgery, so Norwood will start in his place. Crumpler is also out with a sore left knee that needed arthroscopic surgery in April.
``I hope I don't hyperventilate like some of the rookies do,'' Petrino said jokingly. ``I think I will be OK out there, but I'm looking forward to seeing them play.''
The Jets had their own quarterback issues a year ago when Chad Pennington was coming off consecutive rotator cuff operations. He responded with his first full season, throwing for a career-high 3,352 yards and being voted the league's Comeback Player of the Year.
Pennington might be in for an even more productive year with the addition of running back Thomas Jones, who helped lead Chicago to the Super Bowl last season.
``I'm used to winning. I have a winning mentality,'' Jones said. ``The Jets are a great organization. They won last year and made it to the playoffs. I'm just trying to add to that.''
The excitement surrounding Jones' Jets debut might be tempered by things being less than rosy in Eric Mangini's second camp as coach.
New York has yet to sign its first-round pick, cornerback Darrelle Revis, and veteran left guard Pete Kendall is still a member of the team despite demanding to be traded or released because of a bitter contract dispute.
Revis, the No. 14 pick in the draft, was expected to compete at the right cornerback spot, but he and agent Neil Schwartz reportedly are looking for a five-year deal. The Jets, meanwhile, are reportedly insisting on a six-year deal.
``All the rookies right now are trying to find a role to help us win,'' Mangini said. ``It's hard to find a role if you're not here.''
Kendall, credited with helping center Nick Mangold and left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson develop in their rookie seasons, is seeking a $1 million raise on his $1.7 million salary. A starter in his previous three seasons with the Jets, Kendall has practiced mostly with the second-team offense during training camp.
``I believe I'm a starter in this league,'' he said. ``If and whenever that changes, I don't think I will be the first to admit it, but I don't believe that time has arrived.''
With all the subplots, particularly the Vick situation, the game might have a little more juice than most in the preseason.
``Not for me,'' said Jets safety Kerry Rhodes, who played for Petrino at Louisville. ``For me personally, I just get to see my old coach and I get to mingle with him a little bit.''