Chad Back In Action. JI Friday Afternoon Camp Report
By James J. Parziale
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
July 29th, 2005
If Pennington’s health stays a question mark then so do the Jets chances at making a serious championship run. So when Pennington threw for the first time since January today with his teammates, all eyes fixated on the $64-million right arm. Chad Pennington’s right shoulder has undergone an intense rehabilitation process since Feb. 8 – the day his torn rotator cuff was surgically repaired. Admittedly his shoulder is not completely healed, and the quarterback has all of training camp to increase his shoulder’s durability. Yet no matter how strong Pennington’s right shoulder becomes, it carries the burden of Super Bowl expectations.
If Pennington’s health stays a question mark then so do the Jets chances at making a serious championship run. So when Pennington threw for the first time since January today with his teammates, all eyes fixated on the $64-million right arm.
It did not disappoint, though Pennington was on a leash. He was withheld from the morning practice and threw just one pass over 30 yards – a go route to WR Jericho Cochery in the afternoon session which fell incomplete. Afterwards Pennington joked about the first time he threw in a game-type action since Jan. 16.
“We thought about wagers about just one-hopping [a pass] into the stands, but we didn’t know if anyone would think we were serious or not,” said Pennington, whose right shoulder was wrapped in ice.
Pennington was asked whether he had any discomfort after the practice and stated he was painless for the first time in recent history.
“It’s the first time in about three years I haven’t felt anything throwing the football,” he said. “As far as discomfort or pain, there’s none at all. As football players we deal with overuse. [Sometimes] it’s not really an injury it’s an aggravation and right now I don’t have that.”
Pennington stressed improving his endurance and strength. Lifting weights before, between and after practices is helping Pennington improve his status, which is at about 85 percent. Head coach Herman Edwards scheduled a live blitz drills as the first part of the afternoon practice, but quickly flipped the itinerary when he noticed his quarterback looked anxious. Pennington was on the field early and Edwards knew why.
“It dawned on me that the first period after special teams was a blitz period, so I switched it,” explained Edwards, who did not want to expose Pennington to too much in his first practice. Nevertheless, the quarterback was all smiles despite claiming he felt like a rookie again.
“I felt like I was starting to see things and put the mental and physical back together, but it’s a start,” Pennington said. “Tomorrow will be a big day for me because today I threw a lot of footballs - more than I have in a long time. So to be able to bounce back and go successive days throwing will be good for me.”
The mood around the first day of camp was upbeat, mostly because Pennington traded the clipboard for snaps. He threw mainly underneath routes to his receivers and sometimes dumped passed to running backs. One throw slipped out of Pennington’s hands and fell meekly to the turf. Yet with each throw the rust seemed to fall to the turf, as well. Pennington’s teammates showed little apprehension about their leader’s slow return.
“I’m not really worried about that. It would be a lie to say that it is like riding a bike but there is a part of it that is like that,” RB Curtis Martin said. “We know Chad has prepared himself and nobody is worried about it. There is not one person on this team that I think is worried about that.”
Wide receiver Wayne Chrebet, who has missed playing time due to a concussion riddled past, can empathize with Pennington, as well. “I know how tough it was, how the rehab was and all the time and effort he put into it…I’m sure he’ll pick up right where he left off,” he said.
Pennington must also play catch-up with backup QB Jay Fielder, who took most of the snaps in minicamp. Fielder currently looks more comfortable under center than Pennington, who does not see his backup as a threat.
“There are very few quarterbacks that make it through the season without having to miss a quarter or series or game because of injury. So having a strong back up, a veteran back up that can come in and take the reins and lead us right down the field is very important.”
Yet all who surround the Jets know if Pennington is not piloting the offense, the Jets will be grounded. The murmurs about a Super Bowl appearance in Detroit in February have already begun, like the always do in July. But the preparation now is what counts.
“We have potential is just another word for we haven’t done anything yet. everyone has potential; all 32 teams are talking the same language we are. We have to go out there and prepare to win and those are the necessary things – the details of our games and everyone has to act like a professional. That’s what we are in the business for: to win a championship.”
Now that No.10 is back under center, the 2005 Jets are back in business.
- Coach Herman Edwards praised rookie RB Cedric Houston on the Jets first day of training camp. The sixth round draft choice sports No. 34 and bears a striking resemblance to departed LaMont Jordan. Edwards said that Houston was effective running the ball and impressed as a zone runner.
“He did a good job of identifying the hole and picking the holes,” Edwards said.
- Spend 10 minutes in proximity of Jets special teams coach Mike Westhoff and it won’t take long to notice his intensity – whether you are trying to or not. DE Trevor Johnson can attest to Westhoff’s fiery nature first hand. The second-year defensive end was leveled during special teams drills and drew ire from his coach.
“Your hall pass is running out, Trevor. Your hall pass is running out,” Westhoff said, implying Johnson’s time with the team would be short if he did not pick up his play. Johnson listened and responded, flatting the offensive lineman assigned to block him on the next play.
-RB Vick King Retired.
The only injury Edwards announced was to LB Kenyatta Wright (foot). Edwards said he is not capable of practicing right now.
For over 100 Jets Insider.com exclusive day one training camp photos CLICK HERE
The Jets continue two-a-days tomorrow with practices at 8:30 and 3:30 both open to the public. Check back to Jets Insider.com for all the latest training camp news.