When Chad Pennington got hurt last year, the New York Jets had a hard time winning games.
They hope things go differently this time around. Pennington is out two to four weeks with a strained right rotator cuff, leaving former Cowboys
starter Quincy Carter to handle the offense.
Pennington was hurt in the first quarter of a 22-17 loss to Buffalo on Sunday when he scrambled up the middle for a 12-yard gain. He kept playing, but
his arm started to stiffen and he left the game in the fourth quarter after his last two drives ended with an interception and a 13-yard sack.
An MRI exam Monday revealed the strain. Pennington started rehabbing immediately to regain the strength in his arm.
"I'm positive and upbeat about it and I'm still excited for our team," Pennington said Monday. "I think we can be excited as a team because we're
sitting here 6-2 and not 2-6 like we were last year. We still have an excellent opportunity with what we want to do when you look at the big
That starts Sunday against Baltimore and its notoriously stingy defense. The Jets probably will run a scaled down version of their offense behind
Carter, a scrambling quarterback with little experience in the West Coast offense.
They used the same strategy last year when Pennington broke his left wrist during training camp and missed the first six games. The Jets were ultra
conservative with Vinny Testaverde at the helm, relying too much on a running game that took a while to get on track.
The result: an 0-4 start, which led to a 6-10 season.
"Last year we started on that down note," running back Curtis Martin said. "We knew we didn't have Chad coming into the season, which affected the
team. This is a little different because we know that he'll be back. We know what we can do. We've seen what we're capable of. So our confidence is
much higher than it was last year."
But what the Jets have seen is success with Pennington, who signed a $64 million contract before the season started. Because of past failures without
Pennington, the Jets pounced on the opportunity to sign Carter when the Cowboys let him go.
The Jets went into training camp with second-year player Brooks Bollinger as the backup. In Carter they have a veteran who led the Cowboys to the
playoffs last season.
"It's good we had foresight and he's here," coach Herman Edwards said. "He's played a lot of football games."
But now the Jets have to wonder whether their quarterback is injury prone. Edwards grinned when asked whether he thought, 'Why me, again?' when he got
the news about his franchise quarterback.
"I used to say that a long time ago when I was younger, but then I learned," Edwards said. "Somebody said, 'Why not you?' My dad told me that. And he
was right, why not you? I feel bad for Chad. But the good thing is, he'll be able to come back."
Pennington has gone 144-of-216 for 1,643 yards with nine touchdowns and three interceptions this season.
Carter is just looking forward to his opportunity after what happened in Dallas. The fourth-year player was cut Aug. 4 in a surprising move amid
reports he failed a drug test, and the NFL Players Association has filed a request for arbitration in the case.
The Jets signed him three weeks later and he played in only one preseason game. Carter led one touchdown drive in relief of Pennington on Sunday and
finished 2-of-3 for 66 yards.
"I am pretty comfortable with everything," Carter said. "I think it is important that this football team knows we are not trying to take any steps
Or repeat what happened in 2003. Spirits seemed higher Monday, especially Pennington's.
"Compared to what I went through last year, this is something hard to take because I hate missing games and it's something I'm not used to as a
starter," Pennington said. "But at the same time my cup's still half full, not half empty and I have a lot of great expectations for our team."
In other injury news, starting defensive end Shaun Ellis (groin) and safety Jon McGraw are questionable, and safety Derek Pagel (calf) is out.