Jets Insider.com Sunday Training Camp Report
By James J. Parziale
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
August 14th, 2005
The Chad Pennington arm watch revealed a new twist in the storyline today. After today’s lone practice at Hofstra, head coach Herman Edwards proclaimed his $64-million quarterback will sail through uncharted waters for the first time this training camp.
Pennington will throw during both practices tomorrow for the first time since camp opened; another in a series of steps toward recovery for the quarterback whose surgically repaired rotator cuff has been the main event since camp opened.
Though the process of bringing Pennington back to full health has seemed to go at a snail’s pace, tomorrow’s hurdle will be a leap in accessing Pennington’s availability in Friday’s match up against the Vikings.
“[We want] to take him through another faze of where he’s at,” Edwards said of the decision. A day earlier Edwards said Pennington would practice once a day – in the mornings - for the remainder of camp, so the idea that Edwards saw something in today’s practice is not farfetched.
Pennington, who after Friday’s 10-3 win over the Lions said he was at 90 to 95 percent, threw about “25 to 30” times – a game’s worth of tosses – according to Edwards. He is expected to start Friday and play into the second quarter, along with the rest of the first team.
Pennington was slightly bipolar in terms of throwing ability today. He hooked up with WR Justin McCareins for a touchdown on a frozen rope of a throw. Yet twice he under threw McCareins, forcing the wide receiver to comeback to the ball. Pennington seemed to have synergy with WRs Wayne Chrebet (who practiced for the first time in a week) and Laveranues Coles during a two-minute drill that capped the day’s practice.
Wednesday Edwards will announce officially how much time Pennington will get in the huddle Friday, barring any setbacks. There haven’t been any yet, according to Edwards.
“It’s never a step back, just steps forward,” he said.
While Pennington has yet to hit a wall, some of the younger Jets have apparently been knocked unconscious after running into it. One of those youngsters is CB Justin Miller, who heard derisive cheers from fans after fielding a routine punt in drills.
Why after a punt, you ask? Well, Miller botched not one, not two, not three, but four consecutive punts. All this after the rookie second round draft pick was stripped of the ball in Friday’s preseason opener, but was bailed out when the ball was recovered out of bounds. Miller was also flagged for pass interference during full-team drills today and it seems double-duty on defense and special teams has worn on Miller.
“He’s fighting it. He’s frustrated right now. You don’t want to coddle [the rookies] too much,” Edwards said, later adding Miller’s struggles would not curtail any playing time.
One rookie whose praises Edwards bellowed is S Kerry Rhodes. After an interception and a game-saving deflection during Friday’s game against the Lions, Rhodes has raised everyone’s eyebrows. With the battle for strong safety wide open right now, Rhodes’ stock just went up. Last season, FS Eric Coleman wowed the team during camp and landed the starting job.
“He’s learning something new everyday,” Edwards said of Rhodes, who broke up a pass intended for WR Jerricho Cochery during practice. “He just needs to keep showing up.”
The strong safety competition is just one of the under cards during this year’s training camp, but undoubtedly the main event has been Pennington’s arm. That fight starts Friday night.
Dewayne in pain? Don’t ask Jets DT Dewayne Robertson about his injured left knee because he does not want to discuss it. Robertson participated in practice today and looked fine, but after practice cringed at hearing the same thing repeated.
Robertson was asked several times about the state of his knee and his mindset in regard to playing hurt and offered little, saying team guidelines prohibit him to discuss the injury.
“You all keep asking me the same question,” a surly Robertson said. “I’m going to give the same answer.”
WR Wayne Chrebet also returned to practice today, but is not 100 percent.
“Wayne’s hamstring is still not well but he participated,” Edwards said.
Under the knife. LB Darrell McClover will undergo surgery tomorrow to repair a fracture of the right fibula in his ankle. McClover, who injured his leg during Friday’s preseason opener against the Lions, had his ankle rolled over on the opening kickoff of the second half. He will likely miss the rest of the season. On the bright side, LB Eric Barton practiced today for the first time in a week. Barton, who has been hampered by tendonitis in his right knee, will be lied upon to start on the weak-side. McClover’s injury shreds some of the Jets’ depth at linebacker, but Kenyatta Wright, who is on the PUP list with a right knee injury, was running with a trainer on the grass field during practice.
Second thoughts? Backup QB Jay Fiedler was courted by several teams in the offseason, the Chicago Bears being one of them. The Jets and Bears have one thing in common: their starters were coming off injuries, so Fiedler knew he would have a chance to start at either destination. He opted for the Jets since he is a Long Island native. Yet after Bears QB Rex Grossman broke his left ankle Friday and will be out three-to-four months, does Fiedler wish he were under center in Chicago now?
”I made the right decision coming here and I have no regrets about that,” Fiedler said. “I’m happy here, I’m excited about the opportunity I have with the Jets.”
-P Ben Graham kicked a 56-yard punt in Friday’s win against the Lions and looked impressive. But we all have our glitches. Today the punter from down under shanked a 15-yard punt of the side of his foot that nearly went into the stands.
-K Mike Nugent missed three of five field goal attempts from the 40- to 45-yard range. Graham was the holder on all but one.
-Fan favorite WR Chas Gessner dropped three passes against the Lions, and was on the field early doing catching drills.
-Displeased with his defense after they were “standing around and just watching” the offense make plays, defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson made his squad run to the near sideline and back to the huddle after several plays during practice.
-S Andre Maddox did not practice today. There was no mention of an injury.
FB Jerald Sowell (ribs): day-to-day
The team returns to two-a-days tomorrow with practices at 8:30AM and 3:30 PM, both open to the public. Be sure to log on to Jets Insider.com often, for all the latest news from camp.