2006-08-18 / Sports

QB or Not To QB: Jets Ponder Ramsay Dilemma

By Brian Bohl

New York Jets quarterback Patrick Ramsey throws a pass during football training camp in Hempstead, N.Y., Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2006. (AP Photo/Ed Betz)
New York Jets quarterback Patrick Ramsey throws a pass during football training camp in Hempstead, N.Y., Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2006. (AP Photo/Ed Betz) HEMPSTEAD, NY- The official training camp roster has 88 names listed, but for Jets fans, there's currently only four that matter.

With the exception of future Hall of Fame running back Curtis Martin and his status on the physically-unable- to -perform list, no position on the team has been under more scrutiny than the four-way competition at quarterback. Though Chad Pennington is currently the favorite to start Friday's preseason opener against Tampa Bay, head coach Eric Mangini has not officially put together a depth chart.

"We are going to see how the week goes, where the number of reps fall and at the end of week we will evaluate it based on that and look at the rotation," Mangini said. "There's nothing set in stone right now."

In the next few days before the team departs for the Sunshine State, Patrick Ramsey will try to show the coaches the talent that made him a first-round pick for Washington in 2002. Acquired in an off-season trade with the Redskins, the 27-year-old out of Tulane said he still views the quarterback position up for grabs, regardless of multiple accounts earlier in the week that Pennington will named the starter in the near future.

"I have been told we are still competing and nothing has changed," Ramsey said. "They told us the report came out and they told us nothing has changed. Those were his words."

The 6-2, 225 pound passer admittedly has gotten off to an up-and-down start in camp, while Pennington has shown progress in coming back from a second surgery on his throwing shoulder in the off-season. Last month, he signed a one-year contract extension worth $2.1 million for 2007, giving him extra job security over Bollinger.

A microcosm of where the four quarterbacks are respectively was evident during Tuesday's afternoon practice, where Pennington demonstrated a rapport with the receivers that surpassed those of Ramsey, Brooks Bollinger, and promising rookie Kellen Clemens.

During seven-on-seven drills, Pennington showed good timing and crisp velocity, teaming with Justin McCareins on a 40-yard touchdown pass. Entering his seventh year in the NFL, Pennington's experience with both McCariens and Laveranues Coles has helped make his rehabilitation easier.

Ramsey, conversely, has the extra challenge of learning a new offensive system while getting acclimated to the preferences of his receives. Making that task even more difficult is the fact he only attempted 25 passes as the Redskins' backup quarterback last year.

"There are similarities and differences, but there are going to be similarities among any offenses," said Ramsey about understanding a new playbook. "I feel better. I'm trying to get this thing and run it well. As we go along, you're going to become more familiar with things as you run them."

During the evening practice, which lasted two and a half hours, Ramsey showed some good decision making on outlet passes but still had his share of attempts batted down by the secondary. His lone standout play was a 20-yard rush after a good play-action fake to the running back.

Mangini will not give Ramsey extra playing time based on his legs, so the Ruston, Louisiana native will have to show more consistency. With camp only opening two weeks ago, the feeling-out process still has a long way to go.

"I am not where I want to be for the season," Ramsey said. "You want to progress from wherever you started. If you start at point A, you want to get to point B, point C, and you want to accelerate that process as much as possible."

The issue of who suits up at quarterback will be moot if Coles doesn't perform well as the primary receiver. Last season, he played in all 16 games, catching 73 passes for 845 yards. Though his best season came in 2002 with Pennington, the rookie head coach feels the seventh-year wide out can play regardless of the situation.

"Laveranues is the type of receiver that can have chemistry with anybody," Mangini said. "He's really good and he makes things happen. He's tough and he's physical and aggressive. All those things really lend chemistry to any QB that he works with. I've been pleased with the way he's approached that."

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