Jets camp: The first week

The first week of Jets' training camp was about the health of quarterback Chad Pennington and his responsiveness to throwing in live practice.

Chad Pennington was driving coach Herman Edwards crazy throughout the Jets' first training camp practice, pacing the sideline.

"I said `Will you please stop walking behind me? You don't get to play this morning,"' Edwards said. "Just leave me alone. You go this afternoon."

That Pennington did, throwing in his first official practice with the Jets in the afternoon, almost six months after undergoing surgery to repair a partially torn right rotator cuff.

Pennington completed 7-of-10 passes during live team sessions and another 7-of-8 during 7-on-7 drills. Yet the numbers are essentially meaningless because the Jets and Pennington admit he's only about 85 percent back and it will take the rest of training camp to get him ready for the Sept. 11 regular season opener at Kansas City.

Still, Pennington was as giddy as a rookie when he finally got experience playing football again.

"Just to get back into the flow of feeling what it's like to be in the huddle again," Pennington said. "To be with my teammates, to work on snap counts, to just kind of take a soft focus of the defense and just feel what it's like to be a quarterback again."

Pennington half-expected to throw deep on his first pass but offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger called for a short 6-yarder to Justin McCareins - a play made exciting by McCareins making a one-handed catch on a ball thrown just wide.

Pennington's next throw got the 1,500 fans who showed up oohing and gasping when he unleashed a 30-yarder toward the sideline, only he overthrew tight end Doug Jolley by a yard or two, earning an extended sigh from fans.

"I know everybody's worried about me throwing deep," Pennington joked. "But I don't know why they're worried. They've always said I could never throw deep so why would they expect me to do it now."

Several of Pennington's throw dipped considerably - signs of a tired arm - yet that's something that 31 other starting quarterbacks might be going through the first day of training camp as well.

"This is pretty amazing, but it's the first time in about three years that I haven't felt anything as far as throwing the football," Pennington said. "Strength, that's what I've got to concentrate on. Getting stronger and having the endurance to get through a full practice."

Receiver Wayne Chrebet, who wasn't the recipient of a Pennington pass during full-team sessions, is one of a majority of Jets who aren't worried.

"I know how tough it was, the rehab and all the time and effort he put into it," Chrebet said. "I think he'll be able to pick up where he left off."

Said running back Curtis Martin: "It's just encouraging to know that he's going to be there and to know that he's coming along. I'm not really worried about (Pennington). It would be a lie to say that it's like riding a bike but there is a part of it that is like that."

Pennington's next test will continue during the first week of camp, as he recovers from throwing on a daily basis and eventually, two practices in one day.

"It's a start," Pennington said. "It's just a nice start."

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