The backup quarterback battle will be joined at today’s third day of Jets training camp at SUNY Cortland.
Kellen Clemens, who was rehabbing a calf issue, passed his second conditioning test in two days at 6 a.m. Tuesday and was cleared to return to practice Tuesday morning. His reps were limited yesterday — “I wasn’t completely complaining about that,” he said. “My legs were pretty tired coming off all the running and stuff.”
His reps this morning were also limited, but today’s afternoon session could signal the start of the Jets’ seemingly annual QB camp competition, although needless to say this year’s derby is not for the win position but for place and show.
And while everyone has thoughts and theories of how the depth chart should line up behind starter Mark Sanchez, no one and certainly not head coach Rex Ryan and coordinator Brian Schottenheimer have said that the positions have been settled. For instance, many supposed that with the signing of Mark Brunell would come the release of Clemens.
Guess what. KC is still standing.
“There’s no reason why it couldn’t be me and the two Marks and Kevin [O'Connell],” Clemens said, leaving off Erik Ainge, who for now remains on the Reserve/Non-Football Illness list. “They’ve mentioned that they’d like to only carry three quarterbacks this year, but plans change. They might cut it all the way down to two. Brad Smith is a very talented player, too.”
Brunell for sure came in on Monday and showed why he’s lasted 17 NFL seasons as he unselfconsciously barked signals and fired completions downfield while also deftly checking down and occasionally tossing the ball away under pressure.
“I’m still a player, man,” Brunell said playfully but pointedly to a reporter suggesting his role on the Jets might be purely as a non-participating mentor. “I’m wearing the shoulder pads. When I’m in there, it’s my job to move the team. Because of my experience I can help young guys like Kevin, Mark, obviously, and even Kellen. I’ve been around awhile. But I am a player.”
“He was impressive out there,” Ryan said of Brunell’s first practice. “He really looks good.”
But Clemens is far from throwing in the green and white towel. That was clear when he reported to the Jets’ SUNY Cortland dorms Sunday and was asked one of those simple, direct, perhaps loaded questions: Why are you here?
“I’m here because I can play, and I can play well, and they know that,” Clemens said with conviction.
“It’s an interesting situation,” he told me with a smile and a laugh two days later. “I’ve been through it. You get the surprises of Brett Favre showing up and all of a sudden Chad Pennington’s gone. Then they draft Mark and there’s a competition. It’s just part of this game. And unfortunately I’m starting to get used to kind of the uncertainty that sometimes comes with it. So you just have to deal with it. You don’t have much of a choice.”
“I’m certainly not trying to belittle the situation and say it’s a cakewalk because it’s not,” he continued about that uncertainty of his position. “It’s taken a lot of patience and a lot of prayer and support from family and friends back home.”
And this morning KC is coming out throwing and following his mantra for this situation: “Make the most with the reps you get and be ready when your number’s called.”
Tags: Erik Ainge, Kellen Clemens, Kevin O\'Connell, Mark Brunell, Mark Sanchez
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