Vinny and the Jets

Posted: Monday, August 25, 2003

NEW YORK Jets coach Herman Edwards welcomed Vinny Testaverde into his office Sunday morning for a long chat.

They had plenty to discuss.

Starting quarterback Chad Pennington is expected to miss 12 weeks with a broken and dislocated left wrist, putting Testaverde back in the lineup.

Testaverde, a 17-year veteran, has plenty of experience as a starter. He will need to rely on all of it.

''What we're going to do is rally around Vinny,'' Edwards said Sunday. ''It's not like Vinny has never played quarterback. He feels very bad for Chad, but he's getting an opportunity to play now, and he's going to do everything he can to help us win.''

He might be relied upon for the whole season.

Edwards said Pennington's injury is not career-threatening, but he would not rule out the possibility that Pennington could miss the entire year.

''(The doctors are) optimistic that he will have the ability to come back,'' Edwards said. ''You're talking about surgery, so you never know. No one can guarantee on that.''

Testaverde entered Jets training camp as a backup for just the fourth time in his career. He played sparingly in New York's first three preseason games, going in for just one series.

That all changed Saturday night, when Pennington was injured in an exhibition against the New York Giants.

As Brandon Short came on a blitz, Pennington rolled to his right and threw the ball away.

But Short tackled Pennington from behind, and Pennington used his wrist to cushion his fall to the turf.

Pennington became the second starting quarterback to go down with a serious injury in the preseason.

Falcons quarterback Michael Vick broke his right leg against Baltimore and is expected to be out at least six weeks.

''All of our hearts stopped,'' running back Curtis Martin said Saturday night. ''Chad's an integral part of this team.

"For him to go down scared everyone.''

Edwards said that in addition to the dislocation, Pennington broke four bones that connect the knuckles to the wrist and also has ligament damage.

He said Pennington had seven pins inserted in his wrist and will be in a splint for the next week. Pennington then will wear a cast for three-to-four weeks.

The 12-week estimation is the doctors' best guess.

Edwards said Pennington could come back earlier, depending on how his wrist heals.

If he does miss 12 weeks, he could return against Jacksonville on Nov. 23 and play the final six games of the Jets' season.

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