|Jets say Pennington is still starting QB - as long as he's healthy|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 17 September 2007 13:30|
Despite an impressive fourth-quarter performance by backup Kellen Clemens at Baltimore, Chad Pennington will remain the starter - as long as he's healthy.
``Chad's the starter and I'm the backup. That's been clearly communicated,'' Clemens said Monday. ``Whoever's healthy and ready to go will go on Sunday and we trust the coaches to put us in the best position to hopefully get that first victory.''
Whether that means Pennington, who didn't play in the 20-13 loss to the Ravens because of an ankle injury, will be healthy enough to start against the Miami Dolphins remains to be seen.
``If he can, he will,'' coach Eric Mangini said. ``We'll just assess it throughout the week, but if he's able to, he will.''
Pennington injured his right ankle when he was sacked in the third quarter of the Jets' season-opening 38-14 loss to the New England Patriots. He missed one play, but came back on New York's next series and led the Jets to a touchdown before pulling himself out of the game late in the fourth quarter.
He walked with a severe limp after the game and spent last week rehabbing the injury. He improved to the point that he was listed as the No. 2 quarterback, even telling reporters after the game that he was ready to play.
``He did a really great job with his rehab,'' Mangini said. ``He worked incredibly hard at it. It was one of those things where, just like we're talking about this week, you assess it throughout the course of the week. The progress he made was outstanding. I was really pleased with that and that's why he was at the 2-spot.''
Pennington was not in the locker room Monday, and usually only speaks to the media on Wednesdays and after games.
``Chad is one of our leaders, one of our main leaders, especially on offense,'' receiver Jerricho Cotchery said. ``To have our guys healthy and ready to go for next week would be a big plus.''
Clemens said he wasn't ever told he was going to start against the Ravens - even when the game started.
``As soon as our defense forced that first punt, I just kind of jogged out on the field and nobody told me not to,'' said Clemens, wearing an Oregon-themed T-shirt with the words ``Getting The Job Done'' printed on it.
The second-year quarterback certainly made a case for himself to see more action with an impressive second half against the Ravens. He was bottled up in the first half, going 4-of-9 for 43 yards and an interception, but looked like a season veteran in the final 15 minutes.
Clemens cut a 20-3 deficit to seven points in the fourth quarter and took the Jets to the Baltimore 7 before Ray Lewis intercepted a deflected pass in the end zone with 1:04 left to preserve the win.
``He gave us a chance to win, and that is all you can ask for,'' linebacker Jonathan Vilma said.
Clemens had three passes on the final drive that could've been caught for tying touchdowns, but were dropped. Receivers Justin McCareins and Laveranues Coles took the blame after the game, as did Clemens, for not coming through at the end.
``There were some big throws that we had some opportunities to do something with and I missed,'' said Clemens, who finished 19-of-37 for 260 yards a touchdown and two interceptions. ``We'll work on that.''
When asked if he's confident he can be an NFL starter even if he might have taken his last snaps in a game this season, Clemens grimaced.
``That's highly possible,'' Clemens said. ``Gosh, on that one I can only speak on what I proved to myself, and that was in the fourth quarter, it was a nice boost of confidence against a very good defense. In a pretty hostile environment, we were able to move the ball in a game that wasn't going too smoothly. We battled back and made a pretty dang good game out of it. That helps confidence for me, considering the limited action that I've had.''
Clemens took some hard hits from the Ravens, especially in the first half. He was sacked four times and was forced to hurry a number of throws.
``There's some soreness, there is, but it's a good soreness,'' Clemens said. ``It's a lot better to be sore because you were playing than because you were standing around on the sideline the whole time. A little bit of soreness, but that just comes with playing, and it feels good to be a part of it.''