By Andrew Scharff
Jets Staff Writer
December 19th, 2007
Who would have thought that a 3-11 team would have a quarterback controversy? But low and behold Gang Green indeed does. During head coach Eric Mangini’s Wednesday morning press conference the most popular questions asked were about who would be Gang Green’s starter when the Jets travel to Tennessee.

Mangini did reaffirm that Clemens is still his starter, but he did not name Clemens the starter for this Sunday. Clemens was hurt on the Jets second play from scrimmage when Patriots DL Richard Seymour drove Clemens into the ground. Clemens was slow to get up after the hit and then once he went to sideline he was taken to locker room for X-rays.

During the game the Jets were calling Clemens injury a “rib” injury and his return was probable. As everybody knows now Clemens did not return and Mangini said after the game it was a coach’s decision on why he did not return. The combination of Chad Pennington and Brad Smith played quarterback for the rest of the game.

Like on Monday, Mangini tried to tip-toe around the starting quarterback issue, but everybody who was at Mangini’s Wednesday press conference would not let the head coach do so. Mangini said he hasn’t decided on who will be the starter and he probably won’t make that decision till the day of the game.

Mangini said if Clemens can demonstrate to him that he is ready from a mental and physical standpoint he will start. Clemens has to prove to Mangini and the rest of the Jets medical staff that he is completely healthy. If Clemens wants to play on Sunday, he will need to practice. Some Jets players are able to play without practicing because they know the offense well enough, but Clemens is not one of those Jets.

“It’s really health related. I got to see where Kellen is. I have to see what his ability is in terms of what he can do in practice throughout the course of the week,” said Mangini. “I will see where he is at the end of the week with his ability to function effectively. All of that stuff will go into the equation when we are deciding.”

During the 30-minutes of practice Clemens did not do much. He stretched with the rest of the team, then went to a side field to work with the quarterbacks and QB coach Brian Daboll. After punt coverage drills, the quarterbacks joined the receivers on the main practice field. In both segments of practice Clemens did not throw any passes. He stood next to WR Laveranues Coles for most of the 30 minutes. The QB also kept his left hand in hand warmer for most of the sesson, which could suggest he has more than a rib injury.

Despite the coach's speech, it's almost certain that Pennington will be the starter on Sunday. This could be a final audition for the veteran to stay on the team and compete for the starting job next year or it also could be a showcase for other teams that may be interested in Pennington's services if the Jets don't want him anymore. Based on the way Clemens has played during his time as the starter the Jets are far from knowing if the 2nd year man is their solution at QB. Add that there will be few quality veteran QB's on the free agent market next season, Pennington may very well be retained.

Insider Tidbits

Clarke Tries to Move On

LG Adrien Clarke, who was beaten by Patriots DL Richard Seymour on the play that knocked QB Kellen Clemens out of the game, spoke for the first time since Sunday’s game.

“Unfortunately, any time things like that happen, you have to be able to put it behind you and go to the next play,” said Clarke. “When I saw him, I told him ‘my bad’, I apologized but I feel terrible. There is no other way to put it. You can sit down and say what you guys may feel about it, but the actual feeling in knowing what happened is 10 times worse than that.”

No Bowling for Gang Green

Last year the Jets had only one player represent the team in Hawaii. This year no Jets were selected to play in the league’s annual Pro-Bowl game in Hawaii. RB/KR Leon Washington had the best chance to get a roster spot. Instead of Washington being the kick returner for the AFC, Cleveland Browns KR Joshua Cribbs got the job. Washington, who averages 28.2 yards per return and has returned three returns for touchdowns, was named an alternate. Along with Washington, S Kerry Rhodes and C Nick Mangold were named third alternates for their respective positions.

Davis vs. Davis

When the Jets take on the Titans this week, two childhood friends will face each other again. Jets WR Chris Davis and Titans WR Chris Davis grew up together in St. Petersburg, FL and played little league football together. Both Davis’ attended Gibbs HS in St. Petersburg, but then the Titans Davis transferred to another school after the ninth grade.

The two Davis’s, who coincidently have same name, have met on the football field in college. The Jets Davis played his college football at Wake Forest, while the Titans Davis played at Florida State.

The two Davis’ have remained in contact throughout the season. Although they haven’t spoken to each other so far this week, the Jets Davis said before practice he will call his friend and speak to him before the two teams meet on Sunday. The Titans Davis is 43 years older.

Hicks and Jones Out

As reported on JI yesterday, the team made a few roster moves yesterday by cutting DL Eric Hicks and OT Adrian Jones. Hicks, 31, was signed as a free agent in May from the Chiefs to help bolster the Jets pass rush, did not record a sack in an 11 games. Hicks has been inactive for three of the Jets last five games.

Jones, a Jets 2004 fourth-round pick, got into problems with the law as he was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated last season. He was fined $20,000 by the Jets, has been inactive for the last seven games.

With the two rosters spots open, the Jets announced they signed offensive lineman Robert Turner and Clint Oldenburg to the active roster from the practice squad. To fill the practice squad the Jets brought back LB Jerry Mackey and CB Manny Collins.

Are the Dolphins ready to hire a different kind of fish?

Reports earlier today surfaced that former Jets coach Bill Parcells had accepted a job with Atlanta to be the Falcons' Vice President and Head of Football Operations. But not so fast...It wouldn't be a Parcells story unless there was controversy involved! Late today, Falcons owner Arthur Blank confirmed that Parcells had backed out of the deal and now speculation is that he could instead heading to Miami to take a similar position with the Dolphins. He has reportedly met with the 'Fins brass and an announcement could come soon. Stay tuned.

Practice Notes

Even though all eyes were on the quarterbacks, there were also eyes on the wide receivers. Laveranues Coles, who is battling a high-ankle sprain didn’t do much in practice. Jerricho Cotchery, who has a broken index finger, left practice momentarily but returned within minutes…During punt coverage drills the Jets ran a few fake punts and other than that everything was status quo.

Injury Report

New York Jets

Limited Participation in Practice

TE Chris Baker (back), QB Kellen Clemens (rib), WR Laveranues Coles (ankle), TE/LS James Dearth (foot), WR Justin McCareins (thigh), OL Brandon Moore (neck), DL Dewayne Robertson (knee)

Full Participation in Practice

WR Jerricho Cotchery (finger), WR Brad Smith (back)

Tennessee Titans

Did Not Participate in Practice

LB Keith Bullock (knee), LB Gilbert Gardner (calf), DL Albert Haynesworth (hamstring), C Kevin Mawae (calf), OL Benji Olsen (thigh), LB David Thornton (knee), RB LenDale White (knee)

Limited Participation in Practice

S Vincent Fuller (shoulder)

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