For Pennington, Just a Day Without a Setback Is Progress

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The New York Sun

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. — Sure, Jets quarterback Chad Pennington had soreness in his right shoulder after playing two series against Tampa Bay.

How could there not be? The preseason opener Friday night was his first contest since tearing his rotator cuff a second time. He got knocked down several times, including an eerily similar hit to the one that forced him out last season.

But there was no setback to his rehab. No additional injuries. Just the soreness that all football players get after playing in a game. So Pennington

was back out on the practice field yesterday, running with the first-team offense and happy with the way he was able to bounce back.

“You really don’t know how your body’s going to respond, and it responded nicely,” Pennington said. “I was pleased to see what happened, being able to come back, not to have to sit out any reps or miss practice just because I took a hit. That’s a positive and the right step in the right direction.”

Pennington started the game with the first team and stayed in for two series. Both times the Jets made it into Tampa Bay territory, though they failed to score and ended up losing 16-3. The scary hit came on third-and-goal from the 5-yard line in the second quarter.

The Buccaneers came with a full blitz that nobody on the line came close to stopping. As Pennington stepped back to throw, safety Kalvin Pearson got through and hit him. Pennington’s arm bent backward and the ball came loose. Tampa Bay recovered.

The hit was reminiscent of the shot he took from Jacksonville end Paul Spicer last year in Week 3. Pennington’s arm was bent completely back at an awkward angle, injuring the shoulder again and ending his season.

After the hit Friday, Pennington took some warm-up throws on the sideline. He was done for the night. After the game, Pennington was tucked away in the training room and took 45 minutes before talking to reporters. Because he was so late, the entire team was waiting on buses outside the stadium while he finished with the press.

Some local press speculated something was wrong with Pennington because he took so long, and had his clothes and luggage taken from his locker and into the training room so he could dress there. Rather than clear up why he was delayed, Pennington said he was looking over a stat sheet.

Coach Eric Mangini finally gave the reason for the delay yesterday, saying it was his fault because the two were in a meeting.

“Right after the game I wanted to talk to Chad and get some feedback while it was fresh in his mind, fresh in my mind, and we were spending a lot of time talking there,” Mangini said. “I wanted to see what his thoughts were and give him my thoughts and talk through that stuff. It was important that we do it at that point, but I realized it pushed everything back.”

Pennington also reiterated he was fine, saying he wasn’t getting treatment. He ended up going 9-of-14 for 54 yards.Though Pennington was the first one in the game and worked with the first team in practice, Mangini still refuses to select a starter. He will continue to use his four-man rotation, and was up in the air about who will start against Washington on Saturday.

Still, playing against Tampa Bay was a positive step for Pennington. It was taking that hit from Pearson that meant the most.

“I think I took a step forward as far as being able to prove my durability and show as time goes by and as we play more games and hopefully I get more action, I’m able to prove that I’m back,” Pennington said.

The New York Sun

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