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Chris Baker


Camp Countdown '08: Quarterbacks

All eyes in the summer will likely be focused on the training camp battle for the starting job as quarterback of the 2008 New York Jets between Chad Pennington and Kellen Clemens. Pennington brings experience to the table, but has physical limitations that are hard to overcome. Pennington proved beyond a shadow of a doubt in 2007 that he does not have the physical ability to win a game with time winding down, making costly mistakes in crunch time that cost him his starting job. Clemens brings youth and hope, but also brings a giant sized question mark after a terrible debut campaign in 2007. Pennington will likely go into camp with a slight edge on the younger Clemens, but will be forced to earn his job. If he brings a preseason performance similar to his 2007 effort he will have no chance of leading the Jets out of the tunnel in week 1.

Most fans will hope that the experience gained by Clemens in 2007 will lead to a more poised and accurate performance during July and August to where the battle is decidedly won by the younger player. Clemens played extremely well in the 2007 preseason eliminating any doubt as to his status and if he plays like that in 2008 it might be his job to lose. Pennington has been through a similar battle to this one against Patrick Ramsey in 2006 and came out and claimed the job quickly in camp, so it is doubtful Clemens will take the position by default.

Both players are likely playing for their careers as New York Jets. It is highly probable that the loser will not return in 2009 and there could be a small possibility that the team moves Pennington and his 9 million dollar cap number if Clemens shows outstanding stuff during camp and in the preseason. If the competition is a draw, with neither player looking great, the Jets would be best served to go with the younger player and be ready to bring in Pennington quickly before the season spirals out of control.

There wont be much drama behind these two players. The Jets spent a 5th round draft choice on Erik Ainge and he is virtually guaranteed a roster spot, unless his hand injury doesn’t allow him to play. It is unlikely that Brett Ratliff makes the team, unless someone is injured. Teams do not carry four quarterbacks on their active roster, and last season the Jets considered only carrying two with WR Brad Smith filling in if there was an emergency. The Jets will likely look to store him on the practice squad for a second season and possibly promote him to the active roster in 2009.