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Jets confirm that Pennington will undergo surgery

By Justin Paley
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
January 25th, 2005
The Jets held a press conference on Tuesday to confirm what everyone already knew by announcing that QB Chad Pennington will have surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff. The news was revealed by team doctor Elliot Pellman who is the director of the Jets medical department. The surgery will take place soon after the Superbowl in February.

The Jets held a press conference on Tuesday to confirm what everyone already knew by announcing that QB Chad Pennington will have surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff. The news was revealed by team doctor Elliot Pellman who is the director of the Jets medical department. The surgery will take place soon after the Superbowl in February.

Over the past few days, there have been numerous reports that a season-ending exam on Pennington revealed the torn rotator cuff. Pellman said he wanted to end any speculation and clear up the situation.

Pennington originally injured his shoulder on November 7th against Buffalo. Pellman said a MRI was conducted and it revealed a tear of the supraspinatus, which is one of the four muscles in the rotator cuff. Pellman said that Pennington went to Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Alabama for a second opinion and Dr. Andrews confirmed the diagnosis.

The MRI revealed that Pennington had a two centimeter tear at the top of his rotator cuff.

“The rotator cuff essentially involves four muscles,” said Dr. Ken Montgomery, Associate Team Orthopedist. “The one that Chad tore is at the top of the rotator cuff. The other three muscles remain in tact. He has a full-thickness tear of the supraspinatus muscle with minimal retraction.”

The day after the injury occurred, head coach Herman Edwards was asked if the MRI revealed a tear and the Jets officially called the injury a shoulder strain. Today was the first time they acknowledged it was a tear.

Pellman did not apologize and said the Jets did not want to make public the information of the tear, which would have led to teams intentionally trying to hit Pennington’s shoulder.

Pennington rested for three weeks before coming back to finish the season where the team finished 2-3 and barely made the playoffs.

“We did not allow him to return to play until we were satisfied that he was strong enough and pain-free enough to return with minimal risks,” Pellman said. “Was there risk? Minimal. The odds of him re-injuring the shoulder at that point were no greater than that of any other quarterback playing in the National Football League.”

After a win in the Wild Card round against San Diego, the Jets were eliminated in the Division round by the Steelers on January 15. During that time, Pennington acknowledged that his shoulder was not at full strength and he visibly struggled at times especially on deep throws.

“An MRI was done after the loss in Pittsburgh, not because he had any more pain or because of negative findings on his physical examination, but just to corroborate the anatomical findings that we found when we did his original MRI," Pellman said. "There was no additional damage.”

Pennington has decided that Dr. Andrews will perform the surgery after the Super Bowl. Pellman gave the timetable for Pennington after the surgery.

“As is typical for this type of surgery, Chad will be in a sling for three to four weeks afterwards to allow acute healing to occur,” Pellman said. “After that, it will be range of motion slowly, giving the area that has been repaired time to heal. As that continues to heal, his rehabilitation will continue to go slowly. We’ll monitor strength and range of motion, until in about three to four months, if everything goes well, he’ll start throwing the ball again.”

“Chad demonstrated a lot of character playing through his injury,” Edwards said in a statement. “We anticipate this procedure going well, and having him back when he heals and completes his rehab in whatever timetable is required.”

Pennington, who signed a seven-year, $64 million contract before the season, has only started 38 games in the NFL. The Jets want him completely healthy in 2005 and Pellman said he will not rush the rehabilitation process.

"My recommendation will be to bring him gradually along,” Pellman said. “You don’t want him to develop tendonitis or other problems that are commonly associated with coming back from this type of injury. Essentially what you’d like is for him to hit the season in full stride."

Pellman knows Pennington will work hard in rehab. “Chad is meticulous regarding his rehabilitation,” Pellman said. “He did remarkably well with his hand (last season) and I expect him to be no different with this surgery. There’s every reason for us to be optimistic.”

Pellman said while this type of injury has happened to other Jets players in the past, this is the first time he has seen it with a Jets quarterback.

If all goes according to plan, Pennington should be ready by the start of training camp. Pennington released a statement.

“I have faith and trust in our medical staff and their professional recommendation,” Pennington said. “I am confident I’ll be back on the field with my teammates and ready for the 2005 season.

MISCELANEOUS TIDBITS: The Jets have signed P Micah Knorr, a five-year veteran, who spent the 2004 season with Denver.

-Former Jets offensive coordinator Paul Hackett has landed on his feet. Just a week after he was fired by the Jets he has been named Quarterbacks Coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Hackett re-joins Bucs Head Coach Jon Gruden who he worked with at the University of Pittsburgh back in the early 90's.

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