(Long Island, NY) The game of football is a rough, contact sport. Injuries are part of the equation and must be expected throughout the season. The one position that is frequently on that watch is the quarterback, just because of the pressure that is brought upon him on each passing play. Losing your starter for any period of time can be a crisis situation, and both New York teams have that problem after one week into the young NFL season.
Chad Pennington had his right ankle rolled on and severely sprained it during the third quarter of the 38-14 home loss to the New England Patriots. He did return and led the Jets on a scoring drive, throwing his second touchdown pass to Laverneus Coles. When the Patriots scored again in the fourth quarter, second-year player Kellen Clemens came back in and finished the game.
Rehabbing the ankle all week in practice, Pennington was still unsure of his status on Wednesday. “It’s just a day-to-day process. [I’m] working extremely hard around the clock to do everything I can to prepare myself to play,” he said.
Head coach Eric Mangini echoed those sentiments. “”We’ll look at it each day,” he said. He’ll follow the same procedures that we have for all of our injured players and we’ll evaluate it as the week goes on.”
The Jets official injury report has Pennington listed the ‘Limited Participation in Practice’ bracket, and that can leave it open to interpretation. The team has to prepare for the upcoming game in Baltimore versus the 0-1 Ravens whoever will be under center on Sunday, and Clemens is fully aware of that.
“You approach each week like you are going to be the starter and see who plays on Sunday,” he said. “As a backup or starter, you approach it the same way and you try to get as ready as possible.”
Ravens’ head coach Brian Billick has to prepare his team for both quarterbacks, and the two types of games that they bring. “There is a clear-cut difference between the style of play,” he said. “I don’t know that it is that dramatic, but you obviously have to account for the physical skills of the guy that is going to step in.”
On Thursday, Newsday reported that “a person familiar with the situation” said that the start will go to Clemens even though the team has yet to make an official announcement. The strong-armed 2nd round pick out of Oregon has only seen limited action in the pros, throwing one incompletion in two games last season before going 5 for 10 for 35 yards against the Pats.
As for the Giants and Eli Manning, there also seemed to be a cloud of confusion about his injury. While attempting a two-point conversion in the fourth quarter of the 45-35 loss at Dallas, Manning was thrown to the ground by Cowboys’ rookie Anthony Spencer and injured his right shoulder. He was replaced by southpaw Jared Lorenzen, who led the first team in practice on Wednesday.
Earlier in the week, ESPN reported that Manning had a separated throwing shoulder and could be out of action for up to a month. The team rebuffed the report. “I don’t know where that report comes from,” Giants’ head coach Tom Coughlin said on Monday. “I don’t know where supposedly the information was found.”
“It’s the AC joint and I don’t know the definition of what that means,” said Manning. “I’m not in pain. It’s just a bruised shoulder.”
“I’m encouraged by his progress,” Coughlin said on Wednesday regarding Manning. “He is less sore that he was the day before – that kind of thing. The swelling is way down. So I’m encouraged by that.”
The embattled coach is preparing Lorenzen to take over in the home opener on Sunday versus the Packers, who defeated the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 1. “I talk to him about what our expectations are,” said Coughlin. “He is attached to the side of Eli and they already studied very thoroughly the Green Bay defense. So he is on track. He is doing it the right way.”
If the 6’4” 285-pound Lorenzen gets the call, it will be his first start in the NFL. The last time that he started a game was in November of 2003 at the University of Kentucky in a 20-7 loss to Tennessee.
For the two teams that call the Meadowlands home, Week 2 will not be easy. Both the Packers and Ravens have a strong defense, and inexperienced and young signal-callers historically do not shine in their first NFL starts regardless of who is staring at them across the line of scrimmage.