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Testaverde benched for Pennington
NFL.com wire reports


HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (Sept. 30, 2002) -- Vinny Testaverde was benched by the New York Jets coach Herman Edwards, who said he will turn to Chad Pennington to spark the team's mistake-riddled offense.

Pennington, who played most of the 28-3 loss at Jacksonville that dropped the Jets to 1-3, will make his first NFL start next weekend against Kansas City. Pennington, a first-round draft pick in 2000, replaced Testaverde early in the loss to the Jaguars after the 38-year-old Testaverde bruised his shoulder.

While Edwards insisted nearly every other starter on the spiraling team should feel uncertain about his job, Testaverde was the first to lose his.

"It is not all on Vinny, we are all held accountable," Edwards said. "Quarterback is always the guy who takes the hit first. The way we've performed, judging the performances by the first four games, it is not where we are supposed to be.

"I thought about it all last night and this morning and that is the direction we need to head in: Chad is the starting quarterback."

The Jets have scored 13 points in the last three games, all decisive losses. Testaverde, in his 18th pro season, has completed 53 of 82 passes for a mere 485 yards, with three touchdowns and three interceptions.

"I'm not going to sit here and tell you I am getting a raw deal," said Testaverde, who met for a half-hour with Edwards. "But I think anybody in my position isn't happy about it.

"But I understand and I don't want to be a distraction to this team. ... I understand how the process works."

Testaverde and Pennington have had a good relationship and both played well in the undefeated preseason. But that relationship partly was built on the clear pecking order -- an order reversed with Pennington's promotion.

Pennington was 21-for-34 for 281 yards at Jacksonville in the longest regular-season stint of his career. He moved the team, but didn't get the Jets into the end zone.

"I've got to step in and be a consistent quarterback and leader," Pennington said. "You always look forward to being able to compete on the field.

"The Jets have the opportunity to turn this around when no one expects it at 1-3. I am part of the opportunity."

Edwards said other lineup changes and "rotations" were upcoming and he would be more specific on Wednesday when he has finalized the moves.

The lack of blocking up front has been a major problem, as has the tackling on defense. The play-calling hasn't been very productive, either.

In general, the slide has been a total team effort, and Edwards has delivered his first strong message to the Jets.

"It's not 'you,' it's 'we,"' Testaverde said. "That's what all the players have to realize."


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Copyright 2002, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved
 
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