Mangini undecided on whether Pennington or Clemems will start at QB

Updated: August 5, 2008, 6:23 PM ET
Associated Press

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- The New York Jets' starting quarterback for the preseason opener at Cleveland is ... still undecided by coach Eric Mangini.

"Because there's a lot of factors that go into that, I'll get together post-practice, watch the tape," Mangini said Tuesday.

He added that he'll also meet with his staff and general manager Mike Tannenbaum before deciding "later today, tomorrow" whether Chad Pennington or Kellen Clemens -- locked in a tight competition for the No. 1 job -- will take the field first Thursday against the Browns.

"I just want to go through the week, finish up the practices, finish up the meetings with the coaches, with Mike, and then go from there," Mangini said.

When asked point-blank who was going to start, Clemens playfully deflected the question by announcing that the Browns' Derek Anderson would be.

"They just signed him to a multiyear deal," Clemens said with a grin. "Isn't Derek going to start for Cleveland? That's just my guess. That's why I read the defensive scouting report.

"I don't know who's starting. Who knows when they'll tell us?" he said.

If either quarterback has an inkling, they certainly weren't sharing any information.

"I don't know," Pennington said. "You guys are history buffs, so based upon our past experiences with Coach, we have no clue what's going to happen and who's going to start. We're on a need-to-know basis, and we don't need to know right now."

Pennington added the quarterbacks usually find out who's starting the night before a game, which in this case would be Wednesday.

"Who knows? Maybe we'll both go out there," said Clemens, in his third season. "I don't know. It might be a nice changeup. It'll be Coach's decision. I didn't really think too much into it as far as who started the green-white game [Saturday] and we'll see what the decision is for Cleveland."

It was unclear Tuesday night who might have the inside track as neither quarterback has distinguished himself so far. That hasn't helped temper the cries by some fans to bring the unretired Brett Favre to New York.

Pennington, entering his ninth season, has been more efficient this summer in terms of turnovers, but Clemens has come on strong in the last week while splitting time with the first-team offense.

"It's day in and day out," Mangini said. "Sometimes, it's one guy has a better day than the other and then it could flip, flip in practice, flip during the course of a day. Again, it's over time, it's the consistency over time. It's the operation over time, all those factors as opposed to, 'Wow, he really played lights-out today, bump him up.'"

Pennington won the job out of camp last summer but was unseated by Clemens midway through the season. Neither had impressive numbers, with Pennington throwing for 1,765 yards, 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions, while Clemens had 1,529 yards passing with five TDs and 10 INTs.

"We'll see who goes out there and who goes out there second," Clemens said. "That'll be all up to Coach. It comes down to moving the team, managing the game, taking care of the football, obviously, and scoring points."

Both Pennington and Clemens were uncertain how much emphasis one preseason game will have on the competition, but neither seemed too concerned.

"We've been competing for quite some time now and it's a body of work," Pennington said. "It started way back in the spring, so I think it's going to be an overall evaluation. I don't know how the games are weighted, but they evaluate everything we do."


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press