Whispers: Pennington's biggest obstacle

From all accounts, Chad Pennington is throwing at the Jets complex now and looking pretty good. But this shouldn't come as a surprise. According to a doctor familiar with Pennington's case, the signal-caller should be able to throw fine coming off two major shoulder surgeries. That isn't the biggest concern.

The more pressing issue is whether the shoulder can take the pounding of opposing defenders. The doctor feels Pennington could have a big problem in this area. For instance, if Tennessee Titans defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch (12.5 sacks last year) beats D'Brickashaw Ferguson in Week One, and buries Pennington's shoulder into the turf, the doctor feels this could be a huge problem.

So, the bottom line is this: Pennington's shoulder will be fine to throw, but might not be able to take many big hits . . .

Writers have had no access to the players for the most part, outside of the recent mini-camp. If these are the rules, that is fine. The new brass is trying to clamp down on the media frenzy that existed during the Herm Edwards regime. It became a distraction. However, there needs to be some consistency. What is bothering some writers, and rightfully so, is that while they can't get the interviews they want, SNY, the Jets new TV channel, is getting players and coaches.

For instance, one writer has been attempting to set up a Jonathan Vilma interview for a month and hasn't been successful. Yet, Vilma did a two-part interview with SNY. Also, writers want to talk to new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, but haven't had a chance. However, he did a sit-down interview with Ray Lucas on Jets Nation. Obviously, this isn't fair.

It's good that the Jets are clamping down on the open-door policy of the old regime, but a little consistency is needed. Two sets of rules is never a good idea . . .

It's official -- Bryan Thomas is now a full-time linebacker in the Jets' new 3-4 defense. He is lining up on the weak side and is the odds-on favorite to start at the position. At 6-4, 250 pounds with 4.7 speed, Thomas has the characteristics of a player who seems to fit perfectly into the outside linebacker role in the new defense. We hear the Jets see him in a Willie McGinest-type role in their New England-based defense . . .

Speaking of Jets linebackers, a big question mark is how Vilma will handle playing in a 3-4 defense. Most 3-4 linebackers are built much bigger than the 6-0, 230-pound Vilma. But the Jets defensive coaches think he will be just fine. They think he is similar to San Diego linebacker Donnie Edwards, who is about the same size and led the league in tackles two years ago, playing inside in the Chargers' 3-4 defense. And Edwards is such a good fit in the 3-4 scheme, the Patriots are attempting to trade for him. Edwards had a falling out with Chargers officials over his contract, and they are looking to deal him.

Another example of a linebacker similar to Vilma, who is a good fit for the 3-4, is Browns rookie D'Qwell Jackson. The second-round pick out of Maryland, who is the same size as Vilma, is expected to start inside in the Browns' system, which is the same as the Jets . . .

So what are Eric Mangini's early impressions of first-round left tackle Ferguson? He doesn't have many, since it's very hard to judge offensive linemen in non-contact spring camps.

"You don't appreciate a big man as much as you would a little man in [mini-camps] like this," said Mangini. "You appreciate those big guys once the pads go on a lot more."

Ferguson's big challenge now is getting the offensive system down. The calls and adjustments are way different from what he was used to in college . . .

One thing that has caught the attention of the Jets coaches is the intelligence of rookie quarterback Kellen Clemens in the spring practices.

"Someone who is misaligned, he said, 'Over here, you need to be set here,'" said Mangini. "That presence, that understanding of what we're trying to get done, seeing the big picture, it was good to see, and it's what I expect to see moving forward."

As far as the quarterback competition is concerned, Mangini says that everyone has a chance to start. Unlike the past, this statement might not be lip service.

"Chad, Patrick, Brooks, Kellen, they're all in the mix," said Mangini. "They all need to compete. Whoever does the best job, that's the guy that's going to play." . . .

The Jets' draft class had the highest collective Wonderlic score of any team this year.

"I think that when you target the types of people that we're targeting, you have a pretty good chance of making that happen, or at least being in the range of making that happen," said Mangini. "I think that's a great distinction to have."

So what is Wayne Chrebet going to do in retirement? We hear he is going to get very involved in real estate. Another plan is to open a restaurant across from the Jets complex at Hofstra, in the location currently housing Bogarts Bar.

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