All Quarterbacks in the Mix
With four competent quarterbacks ready to fire at a much anticipated Jets' passing camp in two weeks, a determined Chad Pennington set the tone for the impressive field of athletic high-rollers.
Pennington, who underwent a second shoulder surgery last October and continues to rehab under the supervision of team physicians, has made it clear that he plans on retaining his starting role.
"Everything's going great," said Pennington last week at the Jets' Taste of the NFL. "I'm full go. I'm throwing every pass we have in the playbook. If I was a betting man, I'd put money on No. 10 before I put it on anybody else."
Eric Mangini has been pleased with Pennington's progress. The Jets first-year head coach values Pennington's fortitude.
"To me, that's one of the things I love and respect about Chad," said Mangini. "He's competitive, he's hard working, he's determined. That's what I'd expect from any player who's gone through the things he's gone through. I expect those things from a competitor of his nature."
Whether or not Pennington will line up behind center at Tennessee in September will ultimately be determined not only by his health, but also by the strength of his competition and their willingness to match Pennington's moxie.
The rest of the quarterback field includes Patrick Ramsey, Brooks Bollinger, and Kellen Clemens. Ramsey and Bollinger have combined to start 33 pro games and throw 41 touchdown passes. Clemens, a second round draft selection from Oregon, posted gaudy collegiate numbers and has the tools to become an NFL starter in the not so distant future. In this impartial race, each player's fair shot will take place on the field, as both Mangini and GM Mike Tannenbaum have repeated this off-season.
"Chad, Patrick, Brooks, Kellen, they're all in the mix," Mangini said. "They all need to compete. Whoever does the best job, that's the guy who's going to play."
So far, Clemens is the only quarterback who has taken to the field before the new coaching staff. His impressive play at rookie camp over the weekend was looked upon favorably. Although Clemens was in the midst of his professional debut, he stepped up into a leadership role, which caught the keen eye of his new boss.
"What I liked out of Kellen this weekend is his presence and his ability to run the operation, that's been really positive," Mangini said. "Someone was misaligned and he said, 'Over here, you need to be set here.' That presence, that understanding of what we're trying to get done and seeing the big picture was good to see. And it's what I expect to see moving forward."
Ramsey was signed in the spring after four years of both starting and alternate roles with the Washington Redskins. He has 24 career starts to his credit and he owns the strongest arm in Hempstead. Ramsey's career totals include 5,445 passing yards and 34 touchdown passes.
Due to Pennington's injury last season, Brooks Bollinger started a team-high nine games in '05 and finished atop virtually all passing categories. His playing experience will prove to be invaluable in the future.
However, this is a new team with a new head coach who brought with him a new outlook, where everything in the past will remain there. Don't expect to see anyone fold when the chips are on the table in the Jets backfield battle this summer.