Testaverde is all class

Vinny Testaverde is not thrilled about what is about to take place, but he understands what must be done, and he is accepting his new role. <p>

After leading his team to consecutive wins against Buffalo and Houston, Testaverde will start this weekend's game in Philadelphia, and then be pulled, in favor of Chad Pennington. Barring injury, Pennington will most likely be the Jets starting quarterback for the rest of the season.

The Testaverde situation is interesting.

How often do you see a quarterback, who has led his team to consecutive wins, and is ranked fourth among all quarterbacks in the AFC with an 88.4 QB rating, lose his starting job?

Probably never.

But the Jets have what they feel is a franchise quarterback in Chad Pennington, who must play, and for good reason. In 2002, while starting 12 games, he led the Jets to an 8-4 record, and compiled a quarterback rating of 104.2. His play helped the Jets overcome a miserable 1-4 start, and become the AFC East champions.

Testaverde has taken all of Pennington's past performances into account, and knows what the situation is surrounding him. However, this does not mean the former first overall selection in the NFL Draft wants to stop competing.

"It's never easy to step aside," said Testaverde on Wednesday. "You have to be a team player and do what is best for the team. Make no mistake I want to play, but Chad is the quarterback here, and he is going to play when they feel like he is ready to play again."

Testaverde has played well at times during his starting tenure this season. The offense struggled a bit early in the season, but that was not completely the quarterback's fault. Until the Buffalo game, Testaverde didn't have a running game to depend on. In his past two contests, the running game has been working, and the team won both games. But the passing game has been there all season, even in defeat.

So does Testaverde think he is getting a raw deal?

"Whether I think I have earned anything or not, it does not work that way," said Testaverde. "It is a little unusual, but we are trying to do what is best for the team. What I say wouldn't make a difference, so I would rather be on the same wagon as [people making the decisions], then try and fight against it."

Rather than fighting his role on the bench, one which will soon be thrust upon the seventeen-year veteran, he is going to make sure that when he does leave the game this Sunday it will be left in good shape, because that is what he is supposed to do. In vintage Testaverde, he is remaining a team player.

"I would feel good handing the ball off to Chad, and having him have a 10-point lead, having done my job," said Testaverde. "I hope that is the case, I wouldn't feel as good if it was a 0-0 game, or they if were up by 10, and here comes Chad, and he has not played in 12 weeks, and he has to go and dig us out of a hole."

Testaverde is handling the sticky situation in a classy fashion, and his teammates would not expect anything less.

"If Vinny handled last year, he could handle anything," said Curtis Martin. "The true character about Vinny appeared last year, when he had to sit down. To me that was one of the greatest things I have seen in Vinny was the way in which he handled it. He handled it with all the humility he could."

NOTES:

Donnie Abraham is out of this weekend's game. Jamie Henderson is questionable. Jon McGraw is still out. Mo Lewis was a surprise on the injury report he is listed as questionable, with a sore Hip and Hamstring. Wayne Chrebet is questionable with a sore back. Lamont Jordan is probable also with a sore back.

Chad Pennington is very excited about coming back this weekend.

"I am like a volcano ready to erupt," he said. "I think that will be the key to the game is for me to control my emotions. Play within this offense and myself…

" The last two months has been different I have never handled it before, it has shown me how much I love this game, and how much passion I have for it. Sitting out is tough but at the same time it is a team game and you have to understand your role."


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