HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) -Kellen Clemens is looking forward to spending a few days this weekend back home in Burns, Ore., thousands of miles away from his newfound celebrity status in New York as the Jets' starting quarterback.
``I know everybody and everybody knows me, where I came from, knows the kind of goof ball kid that I was growing up,'' Clemens said Wednesday. ``They, above anybody, know me for what I really am and not just what you see up here.''
Jets fans have to like what they've seen so far from the second-year quarterback, despite the team's 1-8 record. Clemens had a solid performance in his second NFL start last Sunday against Washington, and first since being named the Jets' starter.
``Every snap that I get, every opportunity I get to play a little bit more, you grow with confidence, you grow with experience,'' Clemens said.
He was 23-of-42 for 226 yards and a touchdown in the Jets' 23-20 overtime loss, and added 48 yards rushing on seven carries. He showed the ability to get the ball down the field when given time by his offensive line, and scramble out of trouble when he's not.
``Well, fear can make you run a lot faster,'' he said, laughing.
After taking over for Chad Pennington, Clemens' big arm and scrambling ability was a welcome sight.
``There were a few plays where I hung in there, took a shot and delivered the ball,'' he said. ``There were some others where we had to get out of the pocket and make something happen. It's really based on how the play unfolds.''
Coming out of high school, Clemens was knocked for too often running rather than throwing.
``I was too much of a guy who got the heck out of there,'' he said.
Once he got to the University of Oregon, Clemens worked on his pocket presence and the results have been clear in his limited appearances in the NFL. During the preseason, Clemens took a ton of hard shots after withstanding pressure and zipping passes to his receivers.
``You can never be too good at moving in the pocket, keeping your feet under you and staying on balance,'' he said.
Perhaps he learned a little bit of that from watching Joe Montana, who Clemens said was his favorite growing up. While the 24-year-old Clemens was only a youngster during Montana's days in San Francisco, the Jets quarterback said he got to watch some of the 49ers' games. Now, Clemens hopes to establish his own legacy for the Jets.
``It will probably be something that hits me at the end of the year, saying 'Wow, I was a starter in the NFL at one point,''' Clemens said. ``Until then, just pinch me.''
He'll get a reality check this weekend when he's back home among his friends and family, who remember him as the kid who was raised on a cattle farm and played wide receiver at the playground through the fourth grade.
``They'll still give me some jabs here and there about things that have happened,'' he said.
On Clemens' agenda this weekend is watching his younger sisters, Maria and Jessica, play volleyball for the University of Portland against Gonzaga on Saturday.
``I've not gotten to see a game yet,'' Clemens said. ``It'll be my first chance.''
Before he knows it, Clemens will be on a plane heading back to New York and trying to turn around a season gone terribly wrong. His development will be a focal point in the second half as the Jets determine if he's the quarterback of the future or simply a stopgap.
He's already shown himself to be a leader, taking some blame for the Jets' loss Sunday. After Clemens opened overtime with a 39-yard pass to Jerricho Cotchery, the receiver couldn't handle his toss on third-and-7 and the Jets were forced to punt. The Redskins won it on their next drive.
``The ball was delivered a little bit too low,'' Clemens said. ``If it's an easier ball to catch, Jerricho makes the play and who knows? That was a tough one.''
The Jets receivers have had an uncharacteristic number of drops with Clemens in, something that could be attributed to them getting used to each other.
``I'm starting to develop more of a relationship with those first-string wide receivers,'' he said. ``Anytime you can do that and improve in that area, it only helps further on down the line.''

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