Sources: Injury may end QB's season

Originally Published: August 24, 2003
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

New York Jets quarterback Chad Pennington, who suffered a fractured and dislocated left wrist during a Saturday night preseason game, will likely miss 12 weeks, coach Herm Edwards said Sunday.

But a source within the organization acknowledged to ESPN.com that Pennington, an emerging star who took over the offense from Vinny Testaverde last season, possibly could be out the entire season. Edwards did not deny such a scenario, but said the team hoped to have Pennington back possibly in as short a period as 10 weeks.

The injury is to Pennington's non-throwing hand. Edwards allowed that, with such wrist injuries, the recovery time often depends on the individual.

"Yeah, yeah, I'm optimistic," Edwards said during a conference call, when asked if he believed Pennington would return at some point this season. "I think if anyone can do it, then Chad certainly has the will to do it. But we're not going to put him in harm's way. ... We're going to make sure he's ready to go. We're not just going to rush him in there."

Pennington was tackled from behind by Brandon Short after throwing away a pass with less than two minutes remaining in the first half and landed awkwardly on his wrist.

"We ran a blitz ... I came up the middle untouched," Short told reporters after the game. "Chad rolled to his right. I must have grabbed his legs right as he threw the ball, and he fell down on his arms and was just lying there.

"I asked him if he was all right, and he just kept lying there until the trainers came out. It's unfortunate to see someone go down like that."

Pennington had surgery Saturday night in New York. To set the fracture, doctors inserted seven surgical pins into his wrist. Edwards said Pennington had broken carpal bones 2 through 7. He also allowed that, even after rehabilitation, Pennington might have to work through some residual stiffness in the wrist.

Other players who have suffered similar injuries have experienced stiffness and some loss in range of motion for a period following their surgery.

Edwards emphasized that Pennington's injury is not career-threatening. He noted that the surgery went "very, very well," and said Pennington's recovery "is a day-to-day matter for now." Pennington could be released from Lenox Hill Hospital as early as Sunday evening, but Edwards and sources close to the quarterback said he is still in considerable pain.

For now, Pennington's wrist is in a splint, and he will subsequently be in a cast for about three or four weeks. It is clear he faces a fairly lengthy rehabilitation.

With the injury, 17th-year veteran Testaverde -- who turns 40 in November -- moves to the top of the depth chart. Edwards professed great confidence in Testaverde, who had seemed to settle nicely into the backup mentality in camp, and last year handled his demotion with great grace. Pennington replaced him as the starter after the first four games of last season.

"It's not like Vinny has never played quarterback," Edwards said. "We're going to rally up around him." Asked if he was "bummed" about losing his starter, Edwards sighed and sounded frustrated, tersely replying: "I've still got a quarterback, right? What am I bummed about?"

Rookie quarterback Brook Bollinger, a sixth-round pick in this year's draft, suffered a sprained knee in Saturday's 15-14 preseason victory over the Giants, so the Jets are looking to sign another quarterback. Among the possibilities are journeyman Jamie Martin, recently released Clint Stoerner, and Todd Husak, who spent some time on the team's practice squad two years ago.

It appears that the Jets have ruled out veterans like Jeff George and Ray Lucas. Edwards said the team is still determining the potential candidates and hopes to have someone in place early this week.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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