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Jets' starting QB remains a mystery

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (Aug. 27, 2006) -- Even though the regular season is two weeks away, Jets coach Eric Mangini insists he hasn't chosen a starting quarterback.

Those who thought Mangini would finally choose between Chad Pennington, Patrick Ramsey, Brooks Bollinger and rookie Kellen Clemens on Aug. 27 were disappointed.

"All four of those guys need to be ready to play Friday," Mangini said, referring to the preseason finale against Philadelphia. "That's the way we're going to approach the week with all the players. They need to be ready to play for as long as we decide to keep them in the game."

Asked if he might not announce a starter even in the days before the Sept. 10 opener at the Tennessee Titans, Mangini said, "It would depend on whether someone has distinguished himself by the time we get to Tennessee."

Such indecision might bother players on some other teams, but Pennington, who started the 13-7 loss to the Giants on Aug. 25, said "It's not that big of an issue."

"Everything's new here," Pennington said. "Coach understands the situation and he'll make the decision when he feels the time is right."

Pennington said he thought all the quarterbacks on the roster had the same perspective.

"We all feel we're starters and when our number is called we are the starter," he said. "We have to prepare that way."

Pennington still appears to be the favorite for the starting job as the preseason winds down. After returning from Knoxville, Tenn., where he visited his ill father early last week, he got his second preseason start and went the longest of any Jets quarterback this summer.

The performance had its ups and downs. The Jets scored no points in his eight drives, nor in the two drives he directed in the preseason opener at Tampa Bay.

But almost 11 months after his second rotator cuff surgery of 2005, Pennington looked sharper on some passes against the Giants than he did most of last summer, when he was still coming off his first shoulder surgery.

"There were some throws I made that I hadn't been able to make in a while," he said. "Especially on the post throws, I haven't had the confidence in making them. Being able to do that in a game really gives me confidence."

On two of those post routes, Pennington hit Justin McCareins for a 40-yard catch-and-run and Laveranues Coles for 17 yards. Both completions converted third downs.

Notes: Mangini said he singled out the play of RB Derrick Blaylock, TE Chris Baker, rookie C Nick Mangold, DT Dewayne Robertson and LB Jonathan Vilma when he spoke to the team Aug. 27. ... The Jets waived 12 players to get down to the 75-man roster limit ahead of the NFL's Aug. 29 deadline. The only players cut with pro experience were cornerbacks Rayshun Reed and D.J. Johnson and LB Alonzo Jackson.

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