Clemens steps back for the throw
Eric Mangini isn't usually one to show his cards. But when pressed Tuesday on whether QB Kellen Clemens would play in the Jets' preseason finale against the Eagles, the second-year head coach hinted that No. 11 will take a few snaps Thursday evening.
"I think he has some good opportunity to see some time," Mangini said.
Clemens, a second-round pick from Oregon in 2006, owns a hot hand. He blossomed throughout training camp practices and his work in preseason action has been stellar. Working behind Chad Pennington, he's directed eight scoring drives (seven touchdowns) on just 13 possessions.
"The game is slowing down at this point, as it should," Clemens said. "In your second year, things should become clearer and things should slow down."
A less frantic pace has allowed Clemens to complete 71.8 percent of his passes against mostly reserves, throwing for four TDs and a pair of interceptions. Mangini believes a more refined Clemens is due in large part to his off-season work habits.
"Kellen really worked at the playbook," he said. "When he did have the opportunities, he worked at those. He would take a group after practice and those guys would run through plays together. It could be the practice squad receivers or some of the guys who may be the thirds and fourths. Those things are huge in the development of any player."
Justin McCareins, who's had five of his six receptions on Clemens passes, likes the development he's seen.
"Definitely, he's established himself as a very solid NFL quarterback. He gets better every day," McCareins said. "We're lucky to have him. He's a gutsy quarterback and he's been a great addition to our team. He's going to have a big future."
On Saturday night, Clemens entered the Giants game and led the Green & White to touchdowns on his first two possessions. The first drive was solely covered on the ground, but on his second drive Clemens unleashed a couple of long balls — a 45-yard connection to McCareins and a 34-yarder to Brad Smith — to get the Jets to the Giants' 1 in just two plays. Then he hurried the unit to the line and sneaked up the middle for a score.
"I think that's the growth we made offensively, being aware of when plays like that and opportunities are possible," Clemens said. "We're taking advantage of them."
The 6'2", 223-pounder in all likelihood will return to the sidelines when the regular season kicks off at the Meadowlands on Sept. 9. With that in mind, he'd like to continue his progression against the Eagles.
"It's a big game," he said. "This will be the last time I know I have a pretty good chance of playing, so you want to go out there and hopefully finish strong and put on a good showing."