Jets' Clemens leaves game after suffering rib injury

12/16/2007 - NFL Kellen Clemens New York Jets + more

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Stuck in his own end zone with All-Pro
defender Richard Seymour closing in, New York Jets quarterback
Kellen Clemens had to unload the ball in a hurry.

He got the pass off -- only to have Eugene Wilson intercept it
and run it back for a touchdown on just the Jets' second offensive
play of the game. And that wasn't the worst of it for Clemens.

When Seymour slammed him to the turf, Clemens landed on his arm
and sustained what he called a rib injury. It was his only pass of
the day; he did not return to the game.

"Instead of taking a sack, I threw it and landed on my right
arm," Clemens said after the Patriots beat the Jets 20-10 and
improved to 14-0. "It [the pain] wasn't anything immediate."

Brad Smith, a receiver who serves as the fourth quarterback,
replaced Clemens, but Chad Pennington took most of the snaps for
the rest of the game. Pennington completed 25 of 38 passes for 186
yards, but he managed to drive the Jets (3-11) to a single field
goal (they missed on another).

"I've been in this situation before, and what I have learned is
that you have to prepare as the starter and understand you're not
going to get the [snaps] in practice," Pennington said. "Once
Kellen went down, I had to refocus my mind."

The Jets announced that Clemens would probably return, but he

"As we looked at it and we talked to the doctors, I thought it
was best to continue on with Chad," coach Eric Mangini said.
"When he was called on, he went in and I thought he did a very
good job."

Mangini would not commit to a starter for next week's game
against the Tennessee Titans.

"I'll have to look at everything and evaluate it," he said.
"We have the injury. We don't really have as much information now
as we will have later on."

Pennington will be waiting.

"I prepare as hard as I can and do everything I'm supposed to
do to be ready," he said. "And when I'm called on, I'll be

Pennington started the season as the No. 1 quarterback, but he
was benched in favor of Clemens after the Jets won just one of
their first eight games. During practice last week, he portrayed
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady for New York's scout team.

But when he hit the field at Gillette Stadium, he didn't play
much like the two-time Super Bowl MVP at all.

"The first series or two, I felt weird because I hadn't had
many reps," Pennington said. "What was different is you go from
being a spectator with no adrenaline to going out and playing with
total adrenaline.

"But that's good. You need it to play with intensity, desire
and drive."

Smith also came off the bench, taking nine snaps at quarterback.
On the first down after replacing Clemens, the former college QB
made a nice pitch to Leon Washington on an option play for a
49-yard pickup to the Patriots' 25 yard-line.

"They put Smith back there in the backfield a lot, run the
dive, run the option, run the pitch," Patriots coach Bill
Belichick said. "We just didn't play it as well as we needed to."

But Smith, working in a rotation with Pennington, also killed a
down with a fumble and then threw an incompletion on fourth-and-2
from the New England 17 -- his only pass of the game.

Jets coach Eric Mangini said using Smith was a way to get around
the line more quickly.

"You have a running/quarterback that can do a lot of things,
and Pennington manages the game very well," Patriots linebacker
Junior Seau said. "It was definitely keeping us off balance on the
defensive side, but for the most part we hung in there."