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QB expected to be fine for Steelers game

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- All of a sudden, the New York Jets have
issues at quarterback.

Chad Pennington missed practice Wednesday with a stomach virus,
while backup Quincy Carter went home to Georgia to be with his
ailing mother. Pennington may not be able to practice Thursday, but
coach Herman Edwards is confident his franchise player will be
ready for Saturday's playoff game against Pittsburgh.

"He'll play," Edwards said. "I would be shocked if he
didn't."

Pennington called Edwards on Tuesday night to say he was sick.
He came to Jets headquarters Wednesday and tried to practice, but
Edwards took one look at him and sent him inside to get some rest.
Carter went home Tuesday, so No. 3 quarterback Brooks Bollinger
took the snaps with the first-team offense at practice.

Edwards said he did not know when Carter would return. That
means Bollinger would be the backup for game, not exactly the ideal
situation for the Jets, who need Pennington at his best to have a
shot at beating the Steelers.

Pennington, who got sick from his wife and son, had intravenous
fluids to help him get better. Edwards was not worried about
Pennington.

"Generally when guys get sick they have good games," said
Edwards, who also is under the weather. "I thought one time
Michael Jordan got sick and he had, what, 100 points or something
like that? Maybe that's a good sign when guys get sick."

Pennington is coming off his best game since straining his right
rotator cuff in November, throwing for 279 yards in a 20-17
overtime wild-card win over San Diego.

"If anything, it rests his arm another day," Edwards said.
"There's always a positive in everything in life if you look at it
that way. Now you can spin it the other way and say this glass is
empty, but I've still got some water in it."

Pennington had one of his worst games of the season in the first
meeting with Pittsburgh, throwing three interceptions and finishing
with a quarterback rating of 33.6. It was his second game back
since the injury, so he looked a little rusty.

But against the Chargers, Pennington threw long and short, and
looked to be back to his old self.

"I think that's the only way we win, with Chad playing the way
he did," Curtis Martin said earlier this week. "We need Chad to
be the MVP of the playoffs for the New York Jets in order for us to
win. It can take us all the way.

"Chad is the leader of this team. His play takes this team to a
whole other level. When he's on point, a lot of other things can go
wrong and we still seem to get the job done. We need that."

Missing a few days of practice could disturb his rhythm and his
preparation for the biggest game of the season. Meanwhile,
defensive end John Abraham also is questionable with a sprained
right knee and practiced Wednesday and would be a game-time
decision.

But injuries to his two biggest players will not deter Edwards.

"I don't get hung up on all that stuff, I really don't,"
Edwards said. "I learned a long time ago you coach the players
that are available. When they get back to practice, they get back
to practice."