Pennington was the Dolphins' MVP when they won the AFC East a season after finishing 1-15. He fell into their laps a week into training camp, the New York Jets having released him to make room for Brett Favre.
Now Pennington is Miami's backup quarterback with no shot of winning back his old job without a catastrophe. Chad Henne is the no-doubt quarterback, and Pennington is trying to prepare for what may come.
"I'm prepared to start all 16 games. I'm prepared to get cut," Pennington said Monday night after the Dolphins' late training-camp session. "I'm prepared for anything in between because this league is really crazy.
"I need to prepare myself mentally and physically for whatever I'm called upon to do. Best-case scenario out there? There's not one. Whatever's best for our team is what's best for me."
Pennington wasn't so deferential in his last days with the Jets. He was competing with 2006 second-round draft pick Kellen Clemens and was convinced the Jets had prematurely made up their minds they wanted Clemens to win the job.
Pennington insisted there's no bitterness with Henne, also a second-round pick. Pennington knew when he re-signed with the Dolphins over the offseason that this would be Henne's offense.
"There's no competition," Pennington said. "He's our guy. We're doing everything to get him prepared so he feels comfortable and helps us win. If something crazy happens, I'll be right there to help us out.
"When I became a Miami Dolphin in 2008 that was the plan, to win and set a foundation in two years that would allow Chad to take over in the third year. I've been fine with that. I understand that. I made the decision to come back here because I want to finish what we started in 2008. This is the right place for me to be."
What didn't go according to plan was Henne being thrust into the starter's role last year. Pennington suffered another season-ending shoulder injury in Week 3. Henne took over earlier than the Dolphins would have liked.
Pennington underwent reconstructive surgery that he's still recovering from. He gets tight and sore after a workout. His timing is a little off. He's still trying to find the right position for his arm when he throws a pass.
"If I needed to go out there right now and play, I could," Pennington said. "But there's obviously things I want to get better and fine tune and get stronger. But as far as being able to execute, I could do it.
"A couple days ago I was able to break through some tightness in my shoulder and unleash the ball, really let it go. That felt really good."
Pennington might not even be the primary backup. He has been competing with Tyler Thigpen for the second-team reps so far. But Pennington spends extra time in the film room to compensate for his limited practice snaps. He makes it a point to stand 15 yards behind Henne on every snap, trying to make the same reads Henne does.
The role of watchman is fine with Pennington for now.
"It will be hard when the season comes around, but I made this decision," Pennington said. "When I signed on the dotted line, I was comfortable with that.
"I think I'll be fine. I have a role here."