Testaverde will start vs. Eagles but Pennington will play

Updated: October 20, 2003, 6:05 PM ET

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- Chad Pennington will make his return to the New York Jets on Sunday, although not as the starter.

Coach Herman Edwards said Monday that Vinny Testaverde will start at quarterback against the Philadelphia Eagles, and Pennington will enter the game off the bench. Pennington, slated to be the starter this season, has missed the whole year after breaking his left wrist Aug. 23 in a preseason game against the New York Giants.

Edwards said he wants to get Testaverde in the flow of the game before putting Pennington in. He made the decision to start Testaverde because he does not know whether Pennington is in condition to play four quarters.

"Obviously can he make it through a whole game?" Edwards said. "I don't know that. When he falls down on this hand is that going to be a stinger? I don't know that, no one knows that. When you put Vinny in the game, he gets a feel early. Those are the things I thought about when I made the decision."

Edwards said Pennington will start Nov. 2 against the Giants.

"This is not musical chairs," Edwards said. "There is not going to be a quarterback controversy."

When Pennington got hurt, he was expected to miss 10 to 12 weeks. His return Sunday means he will be coming back a bit earlier than anticipated.

Edwards said he wrestled with the decision all last week and talked with Pennington about what he wanted to do Saturday night. He said he discussed the decision with Testaverde, and both are fine with it.

"I think it's a really good plan," Pennington said. "It's the epitome of being a team player, and it's the epitome of my relationship with Vinny and how we are a tandem and how we work with each other.

"I feel totally comfortable with it. It's up to me as a professional to make sure I'm ready to play when my number is called. There can't be any excuses."

Pennington started throwing two weeks ago, and practiced last week with the scout team wearing a red, noncontact jersey. This week he and Testaverde will share the snaps in practice.

He said he is in great condition and has no soreness or stiffness in his wrist, though there is some scar tissue that developed. Pennington will wear a polyurethane brace that goes over the top of his hand and a protective glove in the game, which he has worn during practice.

"With the glove and the brace, to me that gives me added confidence to where I don't have to worry at all about taking a hit in the pocket or falling down," Pennington said.

Testaverde has played well in the last two games, helping the Jets come back from an 0-4 hole. Against the Texans in a 19-14 comeback victory Sunday, Testaverde led the game-winning 86-yard drive -- and contributed a 13-yard run.

In six games, the 39-year-old Testaverde is 116-of-187 for 1,273 yards with six touchdowns and two interceptions. Edwards said part of the reason he made his choice was to make Testaverde feel more comfortable should he be forced to go back into the game.

"Vinny can go into this week knowing he's starting the game out," Edwards said. "He can focus on: I have to get this done. You protect yourself both ways. You get them both in the frame of mind that they are going to play. Then I will make the decision as the game goes on when Chad will come in the football game."

Pennington expects to play midway through the first half. Now at 2-4, the Jets still are hoping to make a playoff run. Last year, Pennington led the Jets to the AFC East title after replacing Testaverde following a 1-3 start.

"I'm not going to worry about trying to save the world or be the savior of this team because this team is fine the way it is," Pennington said. "For me to try to come in there and do something extra special would be crazy because the way we're playing, that doesn't have to happen."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index