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Cutler Behind, Competition Ahead for the QBs


It's no longer a 9-1-1 topic for the Jets' quarterbacks, but it was welcome 4-1-1 a week ago.

Kellen Clemens said he was filled in about it by his mother-in-law: "Mortensen hears about it, then she hears about it a minute or two later. She's tied in somewhere."

Brett Ratliff said his wife's aunt and uncle in Denver texted him with it first.

The trade of Denver QB Jay Cutler to Chicago — and not to the Jets — brought a sense of ... what's the word, what's the word ...

"I would say we have closure at this point," Clemens said in front of his locker at the Jets' training center this morning. "The whole situation, I was told when it started and I was told when it ended. In between, I just said we'll let the parties that are involved handle it."

"I wasn't too worried about it," Brett Ratliff said to a cluster of reporters in the middle of the locker room a few minutes later. "I'm excited they do have the confidence in me and Kellen. I'm just excited about this opportunity we have. ... It wasn't something I was paying much attention to."

Clemens echoed that sentiment, that general manager Mike Tannenbaum's and head coach Rex Ryan's decision not to try to beat the Bears' offer of three draft picks and Kyle Orton to seal the deal showed support for the three-way competition ahead among Clemens, Ratliff and Erik Ainge.

"They felt confident they didn't have to give up two first-round picks and a third-rounder to go get him, not to mention another quarterback," Clemens said. "I guess in a way it's a vote of confidence."

The Cutler story was a diversion for several weeks for Green & White fans, and the last time the QBs chimed in on it was a few hours before the trade was made a week ago today. Certainly the Jets' apparent position in last summer's Brett Favre's sweepstakes began similarly, with the Jets on the perimeter of the discussion until things heated up big-time on Aug. 6. But this time the Jets didn't push all their chips in.

Whatever the reaction to the football world outside the Jets' facility, wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery said it was never a distraction inside.

"I wasn't really worried about it," Cotchery said. "I was just focusing on the guys we have here. Those are the guys we're putting in time with, the guys we see every day so we can build that relationship with them. Things happen in the business, but at that point in time you can just take care of what you can take care of."

And now the Jets can continue with no other QB issues on their radar (other than the possibility of drafting one in 2½ weeks). This week and early next week the strength and conditioning program moves on. Then from Thursday to Saturday comes a voluntary veteran minicamp, the first of three Rex Ryan minis before training camp begins in late July.

"I'm very excited. It's a great opportunity," Ratliff said of the first minicamp. "It's going to be fun to get back on the field with the guys compete again, just get back to football."

"I'm really excited to see the new defense, see what they can bring, because I'm sure there'll be some challenges and different looks," Clemens said, "and then to see the guys we've got [on offense]. Somebody's going to step up in that other wide receiver position. We've got some very talented younger guys — David Clowney, Brad Smith, Wallace Wright, and Chansi Stuckey's been working hard."

The outcome for KC and Ratty is clear. Outwardly this morning, their confidence was unshaken by L'Affaire Cutler.

"My goal," said Ratliff, "is to be a starting quarterback in this league and I'm going to do whatever I can to get there."

"I'm very confident," said Clemens. "It's my full expectation to be under center on opening day."

Jay Cutler's old news. And now it's almost time for the Jets' QBs to go outside and kick their competition up another notch.

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