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Jets, Pennington dealt another setback

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (Sept. 27, 2005) -- Chad Pennington's season is done and his future with the New York Jets in doubt as he heads for a second rotator cuff surgery.

Coach Herman Edwards said his starting quarterback is out for the rest of 2005 with a torn rotator cuff, the same injury he had repaired in February. Pennington re-injured his right shoulder Sept. 25 in a 26-20 overtime loss to Jacksonville.

Jay Fiedler, who replaced Pennington, also went down with a serious shoulder injury, and Edwards said "it could be the season, as well" for him.

Vinny Testaverde, 41, who led the Jets to the 1998 AFC title game and was the starter before Pennington replaced him in 2002, was signed, although third-stringer Brooks Bollinger will start Oct. 2 at Baltimore.

"I anticipate he will be out for the season," Edwards said of Pennington. "I've never been in the situation where you lose the No. 1 and 2 QBs in a span of seven plays."

Edwards said Testaverde will be the No. 2 quarterback, and the team planned to sign another quarterback.

An MRI exam Sept. 26 revealed the tear to Pennington's rotator cuff. Pennington and Fiedler were both in Alabama consulting with Dr. James Andrews, the noted orthopedist who performed the surgery on Pennington's shoulder earlier this year.

Edwards feels bad for Pennington.

"It is harder for me because we know all the work he has put into it," Edwards said. "The doctors had him on a schedule that got him back this season. What do you say to a guy about that?

"He'll do what he has to do to come back. But it is tough. He's a little down."

After the game, Pennington said the pain was similar to last season, when he initially hurt his shoulder.

"It's frustrating and demoralizing," Pennington said. "I worked really hard to get back to playing, putting in all the extra hours in over time, and trying to come back to be out there on the field. When something like that happens, it really tests you. It tests your willpower, your mind and your confidence."

Testaverde, who started for Dallas last season, took a physical at the Jets' training complex before he was signed.

Pennington's future might be in jeopardy after his career got off to such a promising start.

In 2002, Pennington replaced the ineffective Testaverde following a 1-3 start and led the Jets to the playoffs. Pennington led the NFL with a 104.2 passer rating and was on the fast track to revitalize a snakebitten franchise.

Then the injuries started. In 2003, he broke his wrist in the preseason and missed the first six regular-season games. Nonetheless, the Jets gave him a lucrative contract before last season started, banking their future on him.

He hurt his shoulder in November and missed three games, but returned to lead the Jets back into the playoffs. Pennington played with the rotator cuff torn, and the team revealed the extent of the injury once the season ended.

The Jets put Pennington on a fast track to be ready for the 2005 opener, even though he would be seven months removed from surgery and a stranger to the offense being installed by new coordinator Mike Heimerdinger.

Pennington looked shaky in all three games. He fumbled six times against Kansas City, and struggled mightily against Miami and Jacksonville. His balls floated, and many lacked velocity. In three games, the Jets scored 37 points on offense and Pennington was 49-for-83 for 530 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions.

Edwards said on Sept. 26 the team had no regrets about starting the season with Pennington.

"We knew going in the only way he was going to get ready to play was he had to play," Edwards said. "When you're dealing with something like that, did we think he was going to be 100 percent? No. But he had to throw the ball. He wanted to do it. We thought we brought him along right."

Edwards also had no regrets about allowing Pennington to go back into the game when Fielder was hurt.

"He gave us the best chance to do what we needed to do to win the game," Edwards said. "I had reservations, but he was able to go in and do some things."

Fiedler was acquired this season to give Pennington an experienced backup. Fiedler took all the snaps during offseason training activities and he shared much of the preseason work. That won't do much good now.

Pennington and Edwards have a close relationship, and Edwards said it was too difficult to even talk to his star player Sept. 26.

"You feel bad, you really do," Edwards said. "Makes your stomach hurt. You never know why. You try to sit and try to figure out why. You can't figure out why. Just part of the game, I guess."

AP NEWS
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