Jets Rely on Their Own Over-The-Hill Gang

Be careful what you wish for—you just might get it. While no Redskins fan, not any with a modicum of class, celebrated Chad Pennington's injury during the preseason, there was an understandable tendency to think that it was a stroke of good fortune for the Redskins.

After all, his replacement will be the 39-year old Vinny Testaverde and one would think that the younger, more athletic Pennington would give the Jets a better chance to win tonight.

Not so fast.

Historically, the Redskins have had a tough time with backup and part time quarterbacks, both young (Clint Longley) and old (Boomer Esiason). Testaverde has started 184 NFL games and, in most respects, he has gotten better with age.

Pennington is certainly better for the long haul, but 60 minutes tonight is not the long haul. Testaverde is capable.

"I think he's got a lot left in the tank," said Champ Bailey.

"Vinny is going to fight," said Redskin guard and former Jet Randy Thomas.

Defensive coordinator George Edwards summed it up, saying. "Vinny's a veteran who knows the offense. They're not going to have to change the way they run things. He can step in. He's got a strong arm and can throw the ball downfield."

As for Testaverde, he said, "I'm definitely up for it."

Testaverde isn't the only aging member of the New York backfield. Running back Curtis Martin turned 30 this offseason. He's been a workhorse with nearly 3,000 rushing attempts and receptions combined. His rushing yardage last year barely topped the 1,000-yard mark and his career appears to be in decline.

Martin and the Jets will tell you that his production last year was hampered not so much by age and mileage as by the lingering effects of an ankle injury he suffered in the first quarter of the opening game. Whatever the reason, like Testaverde, he's dangerous, especially in the season opener before the cumulative effects of the pounding he will take during the course of the NFL season set in.

To complete the over-the-hill gang at the skill positions, the Jets' leading returning receiver from last year, Wayne Chrebet, is also 30 years old. Of course, he's played like an older receiver every since he came into the league, relying on smart play to be productive. It's not like he ever had any speed to lose.

If the Redskins are to win tonight, they will have to be sure that youth is served and not let a trio of cagey veterans get the best of them.


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