A heaping helping of off-season Whispers

There is a chance that quarterback Chad Pennington will not be ready for the start of training camp.<p>

The damage to Pennington's shoulder was more severe than originally thought. The damaged muscle in his throwing shoulder was fully torn. Prior to the operation, it was thought it might be just a partial tear. They also removed a bone spur from the shoulder.

"The doctors do think it will take Chad the full amount of time to recover," said Pennington's father Elwood. "We're hoping he can be there for the start of training camp."

Notice Elwood Pennington used the word "hoping." It's not a lock he will be back for camp. Herman Edwards said the team is "cautiously optimistic" that Chad will be ready for the beginning of training camp."

Dr. James Andrews, who performed the surgery in Birmingham, AL on Tuesday afternoon, said Pennington's injury was similar to pitcher Jimmy Key, was out a year after the operation. But the feeling in the sports medical community is that quarterbacks can come back faster than pitchers from this injury.

Will the Jets fall into the same trap as they did last summer when they gave into media pressure and signed Quincy Carter as insurance, or will they give Brooks Bollinger a legitimate chance to be the primary backup? Carter was a terrible fit for the West Coast offense, and the team won despite him. The defense and running game led the way in the Cleveland and Arizona games, not Carter. Don't let people lead you to believe otherwise. Now Carter, who was history of drug problems, is back in rehabilitation. Signing Carter was a bad move done for the wrong reasons.

This week Edwards praised the character of Carter, who went AWOL from the team in the playoffs.

"After being around Quincy this past year, not only can I say that he is a good football player, but I can also say that he is of good character," said Edwards.

Good character? Edwards might want to reassess the type of character he is looking for in his players. The New England Patriots won three of the last four Super Bowls loading up on smart players with great character. Do you think Bill Belichick would ever sign a player like Carter? Never!

Carter is a guy you can't count on, and that is why Dallas Cowboys coach Bill Parcells got rid of him on the first day of training camp last summer.

When Carter went AWOL from the Jets during the playoffs, the team announced that he was home in Georgia visiting with his sick mother. That story can't be proved. When the team announced Carter was with his mother, one Cowboys source wasn't buying it.

"He's done this before," said the Cowboy source.

The source said that Carter had some unexcused absences when he was with the Cowboys, where he left the team for a few days. That isn't to say that Carter's mother isn't sick, but that might have only been part of the problem. A drug relapse was likely the other half of the equation.

Carter has a deep-seated drug problem compounded by a bi-polar disorder. He needs to stay away from football for a while, and get the treatment he needs . . .

You have to feel bad for Chris Baker. Jet tight end coach Bob Casullo left this week to take over as Seattle's special teams coach. With the departure of Casullo, Baker will have his eighth tight end coach in eight years. He had four different position coaches both at Michigan State and now with the Jets.

It might be in the Jets best interest to hire a tight ends coach with some experience. In the last couple of weeks the Jets hired 28-year-old Jeremy Bates to coach quarterbacks, and 30-year-old Pep Hamilton to handle the wide receivers. Bates spent the last three years as an offensive assistant with Tampa Bay. He didn't coach a position. While he might have a lot of potential as a coach, you have to wonder what he can really teach Chad Pennington with such limited experience. On top of that, he hasn't coached in the Jets new offense before, so he doesn't know any more about the system than Pennington. Hamilton also hasn't coached in this system before, and like Bates, has never been a position coach in the NFL. What is Hamilton going to teach players like Wayne Chrebet or Justin McCareins? McCareins will likely being helping out Hamilton for a while since the wideout played in the Jets new offensive in Tennessee.

Nothing against Bates or McCareins, but you have to have to wonder what Edwards was thinking naming two offensive assistants with such limited frames of reference.

So it's essential that the Jets new tight end coach be a veteran assistant. There is no way the Jets are going to narrow the strategic gap with the Patriots with coaches who are learning on the job . . .

With Kareem McKenzie likely playing elsewhere next year, the Jets might be in the market for an affordable free agent right tackle. One possibility is unrestricted free agent Brandon Gorin, who started for the Patriots this year. The Jets might sign a player like Gorin, or they could move Jason Fabini to right tackle, and plug Adrian Jones at left tackle . . .

We hear Edwards has a new book out that he worked on with former NFL official Jim Tunney. The book is called, "It's the will, not the skill." So this will be the second book in two years for Edwards.

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