There has been much speculation about what the Jets should do about their quarterback position, much of it made as if the three QBs on the roster don't exist.
But that was of no concern to Kellen Clemens, Brett Ratliff and Erik Ainge today. All three were available to reporters during an open media period in the team's Atlantic Health Training Center locker room. And all three made confident early bids about themselves and their team.
Kellen Clemens, the fourth-year man, may have summed up the lines of questioning when he was asked if the Jets are a playoff team with him at quarterback.
"I believe if I'm under center," Clemens replied, "we have playoff potential. Yes, absolutely." Asked for a "guarantee," he replied with a laugh, "I'm not going to pull a Namath on you." But his statement was still a strong one for March 26.
Ratliff, in his third year with the Jets, was also upbeat as he played the what-if game with a reporter.
"Definitely at first, in the first game I'd step in as the starting quarterback, yeah, sure, I'll be nervous," he said. "But I'm nervous before every game. I'm just excited for the opportunity."
And Ainge, in his second pro year, is optimistic about just being dealt a hand in this game.
"I'm getting to compete for a starting job in the NFL. That's very exciting," he said. "It doesn't just happen. There's still a lot of things I need to prove and i need to work hard. But as long as I keep doing what I'm doing now, once we get to OTAs, I feel healthy for the first time in a long time. I feel healthy, I feel confident."
And none of the three on hand now is conceding a thing in the wake of the rumors of Jets interest in a trade with the Denver Broncos for QB Jay Cutler.
Clemens this off-season said he's "visited with" both Brett Favre, who showed him last year how to have fun at a very serious job, and Chad Pennington, who came to last year's training camp "as prepared and focused and ready to go as any year I'd seen him" before departing for Miami upon Favre's arrival in August.
Of a Cutler trade to the Jets, Clemens said:
"It's either going to happen or it's not. Me worry about it or thinking about it's going to have nothing to do with it. I'm approaching it the same way I did last year when everything started surfacing about Brett ... now granted, that came true. But if it happens, it happens. My job right now is just to go out in the first minicamp, especially, and prove we don't need to go outside of what's already in this locker room."
Ratliff had a similar take on trade talk at this time of year.
"I try not to focus on things like that because I can't control that," he said. "I can control being here early, I can control how hard I work, so that's what I'm going to continue to do. If they do decide to trade for Cutler or draft a guy or whatever they feel they need to do to help the team, I'm all for it. That's what I'm trying to do here to help the team."
And Ainge, putting his own spin on a tried and true sporting cliché, said:
"Whether it's Cutler or a new guy in the draft or just us three, as long as I take care of every opportunity I get and work as hard as I can, wherever the chips fall, they fall."
The QBs are still working with the green chips now, but before long it'll be the orange chips of training camp. And all three say they're in this game to stay.