Jets need healthy Pennington

As another NFL season approaches, Scouts Inc. breaks down every roster and offers position-by-position breakdowns.

Quarterback Chad Pennington, four months removed from rotator-cuff surgery on his throwing shoulder, did not participate in June mini-camps. Pennington is expected to be ready for training camp but there's no telling how his shoulder will respond. When healthy, Pennington is an accurate, consistent, intelligent, competitive and tough quarterback. He has developed into an above average starter and continues to improve with more experience. However, he needs to bounce back from surgery and stay healthy in order to take his game to the next level in 2005.

Making matters more intriguing is the offseason hiring of new coordinator Mike Heimerdinger, who is looking to open up the offense and take many more vertical shots in the passing game. Pennington's biggest weakness has always been his arm strength. He has trouble sticking the ball into tight spots downfield and his timing has to be perfect for him to make an accurate deep ball throw.

An underrated move by the Jets in free agency was their signing of Jay Fiedler. Fiedler is a former starter who has reached his peak and is on the downside of his career at age 33. He had his worst season in five years in 2004, when he completed just 53.5-percent of his passes while throwing more interceptions (eight) than touchdowns (seven). However, Fiedler's athleticism, intelligence and experience make him a solid backup behind the oft-injured Pennington. If the team loses Pennington for the season they will understandably be unable to overcome it. But if Pennington is missing in action for only a few games, Fiedler is capable of keeping the team on course for a short period of time. He's also intelligent enough to pick up the scheme quickly and competitive enough that he will be ready to play on a weekly basis.