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Pennington has torn rotator cuff

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) _ New York Jets quarterback Chad Pennington has a torn right rotator cuff, an injury he played with for the final six games of the season.

Pennington was hurt Nov. 7 against Buffalo after he was hit hard following a scramble. An initial MRI exam showed the tear, but the team announced Pennington had a strain. After sitting out three weeks, Pennington returned to play.

Team doctor Elliot Pellman revealed the extent of the injury Tuesday. Pellman said the team is hopeful Pennington will be ready for the start of training camp in July but made no promises.

He said Pennington came back because there was a minimal risk to damaging the shoulder further. But it appeared Pennington lost velocity on his passes once he did return, and coach Herman Edwards said the franchise quarterback was playing through pain.

A second MRI following their 20-17 overtime loss to Pittsburgh in the second round of the playoffs showed there was no additional damage.

Pennington will have surgery shortly after the Super Bowl on Feb. 6. Renowned specialist James Andrews will perform the surgery.

We are optimistic Chad will do absolutely fine,'' Pellman said.But as you know, there are black holes with any surgery. We'll have to wait and see.''

The severity of the injury is disconcerting, because rotator cuff tears are uncommon for quarterbacks. Pitchers are the most likely athletes to sustain the injury, and many take up to a year to fully recover. But quarterbacks do not throw the ball as hard and have fewer motions, so the recovery time could take as few as six months.

In addition, the Jets gave Pennington a $64 million, seven-year contract extension before the season started, banking their future on him. The Jets also are in the market for a backup QB, since Quincy Carter is a free agent and expected to look for a starting job elsewhere.

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