HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) -The New York Jets are still unsure who their starting quarterback will be this weekend at Tennessee.
Coach Eric Mangini said Wednesday that he hadn't yet made a decision on whether it will be Kellen Clemens or Chad Pennington, but said Clemens would start Sunday if he recovers in time from a rib injury and is mentally and physically prepared.
``It's really health-related,'' Mangini said. ``We've got to see where Kellen is, see what he can do in terms of practice throughout the course of the week, where he is at the end of the week with his ability to function effectively. So, all of that stuff will go into the equation when we are deciding.''
Clemens was injured on his first pass against New England last Sunday, when he was hit hard by Richard Seymour and landed directly on his left shoulder. The pass was intercepted by Eugene Wilson and returned for a touchdown.
``The intention of the throw was to put it somewhere in the third row of seats,'' Clemens said. ``Of all the places for that ball to land, it was definitely the least preferred.''
Clemens left with a rib injury after the interception and was replaced by Pennington, other than a handful of option plays with Brad Smith. Clemens didn't take any snaps or make any throws Wednesday during the half-hour window of practice the media are allowed to watch. He wouldn't acknowledge whether he threw any passes during the rest of practice.
``Anything about practice probably today would be best to ask Coach Mangini,'' Clemens said.
The second-year quarterback stood mostly off to the side on the practice field, his hands in the warmer around his waist while Pennington tossed passes to his receivers. It's uncertain if his left shoulder was also injured Sunday, but Clemens is hopeful he can play.
``My desire to play is as healthy as anything,'' he said. ``Whether or not I play will be based on the evaluation of Coach Mangini and the doctors.''
The team announced during the 20-10 loss at New England that Clemens' return was probable, but Mangini opted to keep Pennington in the game. Pennington, who lost the starting job to Clemens six weeks ago, was 25-of-38 for 186 yards, but couldn't get the Jets into the end zone.
``Yes, he would have been able to come back into the game,'' Mangini said of Clemens. ``I made the decision at that point that Chad gave us the best chance to continue to move forward.''
When asked why Clemens could've come back Sunday, but is now uncertain to play, Mangini said: ``Well, the injury hasn't disappeared. It's still something that he's working through. So, it's not as if what he had Sunday has now suddenly been 100 percent healed.''
Clemens has struggled mightily since replacing Pennington. He has completed only 52 percent of his throws and has four touchdown passes and 10 interceptions. Clemens' 59.0 quarterback rating is the second-worst in the league; only San Francisco's Trent Dilfer is worse at 55.1.
``There have been some good things that have come from my playing and there have also been some areas where I need to work to improve,'' Clemens said. ``Hopefully over the next couple of weeks, the good things will continue to show up and then after that as we go into the offseason, it'll be another opportunity to improve on the areas where my game needs improvement.''
On the flipside, Pennington - reviled for his lack of arm strength and inability to move the offense consistently - has had a better season statistically. He has thrown nine TD passes against seven interceptions, has a 67.1 completion percentage and an 85.8 quarterback rating.
``Really, I think that both guys do a great job and I'm confident when either of them are in,'' Mangini said.
It's uncertain if whoever is at quarterback will have Laveranues Coles to throw to the rest of this season. Coles, who has been struggling with a high left ankle sprain, lasted just one play Sunday after reinjuring it Saturday at the team hotel when the trainer's table fell on it while he was getting treatment.
Some have suggested perhaps sitting out the last two games might help him in the long run.
``It's a good way to look at it, but that's not a decision that I would like to make,'' Coles said. ``If anything, you always want somebody to do that for you.''
Coles, who has 55 catches for 646 yards and six TDs, will let the team decide if he'll play this weekend.
``If they say that I'm not going to damage anything or I'm going to be fine and keep moving, then I'll follow orders,'' Coles said. ``I'm not going to put it in the same context as someone being in college, but we are kind of like soldiers.''

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