A heaping helping of off-season Whispers

Will Chad Pennington be ready for the beginning of training camp?

Pennington, attending Herman Edwards football camp in California, answered some questions about his surgical right shoulder.

"It was such an invasive surgery," Pennington said about the March operation. "I had to start all over. I couldn't brush my teeth with my right arm for two months. It really breaks you down. This is the biggest challenge I've ever faced as a football player. In the long run, it's going to be a blessing. My arm hasn't felt this good in a long time."

Pennington is currently throwing passes from 15-35 yards, every other day.

"He's around 89 percent," said Edwards. "He's a quick healer."

Edwards feels the Jets need a healthy Pennington to be successful this year.

"Without Chad, it would be very difficult to make the playoffs," said Edwards said. "The times we have done well, he's been the quarterback."

An NFL source talked to a Jets official in May, and the official seemed concerned about whether Pennington would be ready for the start of training camp.

"[The official] said he was glad training camp is two months away because [Pennington's] not close to being ready," said the source. "He said [Pennington] is not going to throw (full throttle) until August, and they don't know what to expect."

While Pennington is throwing now, he's just soft-tossing. When he will be able to throw hard, remains to be seen.

"They have no idea when he will be able to air it all out," said the source. "All these reports that he will be ready for the beginning of training camp, I don't believe them. Privately they are very concerned. This idea that he is going to be 100 percent ready to do everything at the beginning of training camp, I don't buy it. "There is concern about when he will be able to practice in training camp," said the source. "When he will be able to practice live, nobody really seems to know."

We will find out a lot more on July 29, when the Jets begin two-a-days ...

One position battle to keep an eye on is the competition for the strongside linebacker job between Victor Hobson and Mark Brown. Last year Hobson started the first ten games, before suffering a high ankle sprain at Cleveland in Week 10. He proceeded to miss the next five games, and when returned he wasn't able to regain his starting job from Brown.

So whom is the starter going into 2005 training camp?

"Victor is the starting strongside linebacker, that is how I see it," said Brown. "I'm going to come in and compete."

But Brown has a very good chance of winning the job. Jets defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson wasn't with the organization when the team picked Hobson in the second round out of Michigan in 2003, so he has no allegiance to him. Henderson doesn't care that Hobson was a high draft pick and Brown was an undrafted free agent. Henderson will start the player he thinks is better. No matter who starts, both will play a lot. Hobson is a little better against the run, and a very good blitzer, but his 4.85 speed can be a liability in coverage. The more mobile Brown is better in pass defense...

The Jets officially signed third-round pick Sione Pouha on Thursday. A lot of scouts feel the Jets reached for him because of his inconsistent motor.

"He takes too many plays off," said draft expert Nolan Nawrocki from Pro Football Weekly. "He doesn't make plays. He's inconsistent. He's a classic underachiever. He has a high ceiling if he ever learns to play every down."

The Jets scouts don't agree with the criticism of his motor, and that hasn't been an issue in the spring practices. Pouha disagrees with these scouting reports as well, and claims that scouts didn't understand his role in the Utes' defense.

In the Jets defense, Pouha isn't going to have to make a lot of plays. His most important responsibility will be to tie up offensive linemen so fellow defensive linemen Dewayne Robertson, Shaun Ellis and John Abraham can make plays. Another responsibility for Pouha will be to keep offensive linemen off undersized middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma. This was something Jason Ferguson, now with the Dallas Cowboys, did a great job doing last season. So the 325-pound Tongan's main role is that of a bodyguard ...

After last season, Jets wide receiver Justin McCareins was asked what he and Pennington needed to work on to improve their chemistry.

"Everyone runs routes differently. He just needs to get used to how I run routes," McCareins said the day after the Jets loss to Pittsburgh in the playoffs. "Catching a ball from Steve McNair is different than catching a ball from Chad. We will work on chemistry on the deep ball; I'm not worried about that. As long as we get that chemistry, the sky's the limit for us. As long as he knows where I'm at and I'm comfortable with him and he's comfortable with me."

The problem is they didn't have a chance to iron out these chemistry issues this offseason due to Pennington's shoulder surgery ...

The Jets re-signed linebackers Mo Lewis and Marvin Jones on Tuesday so they can retire as Jets. But didn't they essentially retire as Jets already? After they were both released two years ago, they never signed with another team . . .

Tampa Bay has made a contract offer to cornerback Ty Law.

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