Jets QB Chad Pennington is the picture of health at this week's OTA's (Jets Insider.com Photo)
The sun was shining, the music was blasting and Chad Pennington was smiling. Not because it was the last day of the Voluntary Organized Team Activities at their practice facility in Hofstra, but probably because Pennington was experiencing something he hasn’t experienced in two seasons. And that something is good health.
Pennington, a former first draft choice of the Jets, has come into the past two seasons with his health being a question mark. And not knowing how healthy he can be also put a question mark on his ability to be every week quarterback for Gang Green.
But Pennington proved all his critics wrong last season, by attempting 485 of the 488 pass attempts the Jets made last season. Pennington has shown that his throwing shoulder can survive the rigors of being a number one quarterback. He was so convincing last season, that head coach Eric Mangini, has already named Pennington his starting QB for the 2007 season which opens against New England.
“It’s good to get back into the flow of things,” Pennington said. “It’s been really exciting for me to come in as a normal athlete and be a part of my team and workout as a teammate and not have to focus on one part of my body and really focus on my whole person and me as an athlete.”
“What I’ve been trying to do this off season is get back into the weight room and become stronger and make sure that physically I feel good, stable and strong and mentally I am trying to become an expert in this system,” Pennington added.
And the media that seen these OTA days can see on his face, that Pennington is kid in a candy store again. Without needing to concentrate on body, Pennington can instead shift his focus to being the leader on the field which the Jets most desperately need.
Along with impressing the coaching staff with everything Chad does off the field; he is impressing them on it as well. Though Pennington will probably never be able to air the ball 50-60 yards down the field, the ex-Marshall quarterback has shown pinpoint accuracy and his ability to manage the clock.
As practice ended, Mangini simulated a 2 minute drill, and Pennington made a series of nice crisp and accurate passes and he was able to lead his team down the practice field as he hit newly acquired running back Thomas Jones with a four-yard touchdown pass.
With Kellen Clemens (the backup quarterback on paper) not having a great showing at the OTA’s and Marques Tuiasosopo (whose NFL career hasn’t amounted to much) the backups for Pennington, it is no secret that Gang Green will be relying on Chad to lead the Jets back to the playoffs.
“He is very important to the team. Anytime you have leader like Chad especially at the quarterback position that person is important. He’s the head of the team,” said wide-out Jerricho Cotchery, who flourished last year with Pennington being the starting quarterback. “He has a big influence on the way things go as for this team. He is the main leader.”
Hopefully for Gang Green he same leader he was last year.
OTA INSIDER TIDBITS
-A day after criticizing Mangini’s training camp, wide receiver Laveranues Coles was no-show on Friday. The PR staff said he was excused for personal reasons. Coles said yesterday that Mangini camps has been the toughest he’s been to and that Mangini “has put his foot more on the gas since we have been back.” Coles said he dreaded these days and mandatory training camp days. Coles feels like last year’s OTA’s were easier.
Coles continued the Mangini camp bashing by saying “I know how to get myself prepared to play an NFL season. We have to go through it. You don’t have to like it, but you do have to do it and I have accepted that,” Coles said.
-It looks like there will be competition for the backup quarterback spot. Kellen Clemens hasn’t shown too much in these OTA days and Friday was more of the same. While working on red zone drills Clemens was intercepted on nice play by Drew Coleman.
-C Nick Mangold returned to action but was limited to non-contact drills. LB Matt Chatham participated but worked out on a side field away from where all the action was.
-G Pete Kendall was still a no-show and Mangini is expecting Kendall to show next week when the Jets open minicamp.
-At end of practice Friday, the Jets were spirits were running high as Mangini and the players joked around. CB Andre Dyson attempted a 30 yard field goal that went wide left and KR Justin Miller fielded a punt one-handed.
-LB Jonathan Vilma returned to practice after given Thursday off to see his sister accept her MBA from Harvard
-Speaking of college graduation, K Mike Nugent will graduate Sunday from Ohio State with a business degree in Linguistics Management
-WR Justin McCareins was voted by the Jets on the best players in last week’s OTA’s. Other players who are also opening eyes of the coaching staff are WR Renard Stevens, FB Stacy Tutt and WR Wallace Wright.
-The players get a few days off before returning to next week’s mandatory full team minicamp which begins on Thursday. JI will as always have complete coverage and exclusive photos so check back often for all the latest NY Jets news!