One step closer

By Justin Paley
Jets Staff Writer
December 2nd, 2004
Jets QB Chad Pennington was back on the practice field Thursday, again taking most of the snaps with the first team offense and having no setbacks. A decision on whether the Jets’ Field General will start Sunday should be made tomorrow, head coach Herman Edwards said today.

Jets QB Chad Pennington was back on the practice field Thursday, again taking most of the snaps with the first team offense and having no setbacks. A decision on whether the Jets’ Field General will start Sunday should be made tomorrow, head coach Herman Edwards said today.

“Everything’s going along like it should,” Edwards said after practice. “Tomorrow he’ll go practice again and we’ll sit down after practice.”

In the first 15 minutes of practice the media was allowed to see today, Pennington looked good throwing intermediate passes to the receivers. Edwards said Pennington took about 85 percent of reps in practice today, up from 75 percent yesterday.

Pennington talked about the difference in practice today from yesterday. “We are working on different things, different routes, and things like that,” Pennington said.

The QB feels practice has been going well. “I am just trying to get back into the practice groove and get back to timing and accuracy and things like that,” Pennington said. “I am making progress but I am definitely not where I want to be.”

Pennington talked about what he will work on in practice tomorrow. “Make some red zone throws and make some throws in tight spaces,” Pennington said. “That is something that I haven’t done yet. We have been working out in the field more so tomorrow is another big day for me because I am making some different types of throws.”

WR Wayne Chrebet said it would be an emotional lift if Pennington returns Sunday. “That is what he brings to the table- a lot of emotion and a lot of command in the huddle,” Chrebet said. “

Edwards said Pennington is not yet to where he was before he injured his shoulder.

“That’s hard when you’ve missed three weeks of football,” Edwards said. “It doesn’t matter who you are. You’re not going to be game ready. If he’s going to play in the game, I don’t anticipate him being like week one.”

Pennington has been working on getting back into game shape. “There are a lot things going through my head right now, mentally, physically and just working through those things,” Pennington said. “ It is all about preparing for Sunday. That is the whole key. How I feel now is not as important as how I feel Sunday, mentally, physically and confidence.”

Edwards said there’s many things to consider before deciding if Pennington will play. “Tomorrow will be another test for him,” Edwards said. “Going for two days in a row. We’ll see how his stamina is, how his legs feel,” the HC said. “That’s a thing we fail to realize-how are his legs. That’s a lot of reps to ask of a guy. When you play football, you got to have balance. How will his legs feel in the 4th quarter. That’s why you wait a whole week to see how a guy’s feeling.”

Pennington talked about how his arm feels. “Sometimes when you make deep, deep throws, you feel like you have just gotten your arm out of a box and it is a little bit rusty and you are trying something new on,” Pennington said. “That is what it feels like. I need to get back into the rhythm and in a groove and get my feet coherent with my arm and my mind. There is some success but at the same time, I am not where I want to be.”

Edwards was asked if Pennington and QB Quincy Carter could split time at QB on Sunday. “You could do that,” Edwards said. “Worst case scenario just run the ball more. That’s our other option and a pretty good option for us. You have to leave all your options open.”

Pennington said he needs another day to see how he feels. “The whole question is confidence,” Pennington. “Having confidence in yourself physically to get the job done for your team. I still need another day to see because now we are moving into the third day how I respond physically and how I respond mentally.”

MISCELANEOUS TIDBITS: Jets rookie LB Jonathan Vilma has been named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month for November. Vilma registered 48 tackles, an interception, and a fumble recovery in five November games. Vilma is the second Jets player to earn NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month honors this season as S Erik Coleman won the league award for September. Edwards said Vilma has his head on straight. “He’s smart enough to know that being a pro, you go home, get your rest,” Edwards said. “Do the things to come back the next day in practice. He’s got that figured out. He’s early in the morning working out. I see him around there 7 a.m. He’s a guy that’s ahead of the game.”

-Vilma replaced Sam Cowart in the starting lineup and Cowart has played sparingly the past few weeks. Cowart talked about why he went for a second medical opinion on his knee earlier this week. “It gave me a little ease of mind,” Cowart said. “The only reason I went to him was because it was the knee that I had surgery on in college. He performed that surgery so he is the one that knows what went on before versus other people looking at it and asking me ‘did you have this done on it, did you have that done.’ He knows what I had down. What better guy to go to than him?” Cowart said he is just trying to get healthy. “I have no squabbles about my role, my playing time, starting, not starting,” Cowart said. “That is not an issue to me. My issue to me is just getting healthy. There isn’t anything about ‘I am healthy, I’m back let me play.’ It isn’t anything like that.” Bottom line is that unless Vilma gets injured, Cowart won’t start for the Jets again. He will also likely be gone next season.

-Not a huge surprise, but Jets has learned that there is virtually no chance TE Anthony Becht will be back next year. The fifth year TE is in the final year of his contract and will not be offered a new one. Although he has been a strong run blocker, Becht has basically been phased out of the Jets passing offense even with fellow TE Chris Baker nursing a broken hand. On the other hand, a source tells us that despite a less than stellar year, Baker will sign a multi-year extension after the season. The Jets will also likely address the position in next year’s draft and likely add a veteran via free agency.

-There’s buzz around the Jets facility that S Jon McGraw’s season may be nearing an end due to a nagging sports hernia. Although he is practicing and listed as probable this week, McGraw is in significant pain. If things don’t get better fast or if the injury is aggravated more, look for McGraw to be placed in IR and undergo surgery to repair the injury.

-The Jets are holding their annual Toys for Tots Drive on Sunday at the Meadowlands and fans are asked to bring new or gently used unwrapped toys to the game.

INJURY REPORT: As mentioned above, a decision on QB Chad Pennington should be made by tomorrow. Here is the rest of the injury report for Week 13:

-QB Chad Pennington (shoulder): Questionable
-LB Victor Hobson (ankle): Questionable
-WR Jerricho Cotchery (hamstring): Questionable
-S Jon McGraw (groin): Probable
-LB Jason Glenn (forearm): Probable

The Jets will face QB David Carr and the 5-6 Houston Texans at the Meadowlands this Sunday. Check back often to Jets for all the latest news and reports as the team prepares for the Texans.

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