Clemens hopeful he'll get a shot as Jets QB

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
Kellen Clemens is an unwanted man.

It's crystalline the New York Jets don't consider Clemens capable of being their quarterback. In the span of nine months -- under different head coaches -- the Jets have shoved Clemens aside to embrace someone else.

The Jets were displeased with Clemens enough to trade for Brett Favre last summer. They tried to get involved in the Jay Cutler derby a month ago before trading two draft picks and three players to grab hotshot Mark Sanchez.

"For me, it comes down to a simple choice," Clemens said Thursday in his first comments since the Jets traded up for Sanchez. "I can get mad or frustrated or whatever, or I can get better. I am choosing to get better. I am going to keep working."

As skeptical as the Jets have been about Clemens, he is taking the team at its word that he will have just as much opportunity as Sanchez to win the job. Clemens expects a fair shot from head coach Rex Ryan.

"There's some weight that goes along with being the No. 5 pick. Everybody knows that," Clemens said. "Again, I go back to what [Ryan] said, and I think he's said it publicly: It's an open competition, and the best player is going to play.

"Regardless of all the other business-side of things, the best player is going to play. That's all I'm hoping for. That's all I'd ever ask for, and we'll just keep going."

Has Clemens gotten a fair shot to show what he can do?

The Jets drafted him in the second round three years ago. He started eight games in his sophomore season, when Chad Pennington got hurt.

The Jets went 4-12 that year. Clemens completed 52 percent of his passes for 1,529 yards and five touchdowns with 10 interceptions.

Clemens was believed to be the preferred candidate heading into last season, but he failed to seize the opportunity. Pennington outplayed him, and with the Jets ready to go another direction, they pursued Favre and cut Pennington rather than entrust the role to Clemens.

Clemens breathed a sigh of relief when the Jets failed to get into the Cutler mix. But now it's Sanchez. New York Daily News reporter Rich Cimini blogged Clemens' "swagger was noticeably gone" Thursday.

"It doesn't matter much if it's Brett Ratliff or Mark Sanchez," Clemens said. "The beautiful thing when you are competing with yourself, it doesn't matter who the other guy is.

"There is all that other stuff, but it's not going to help me get better. It's not going to help me be a major contributor on a team whose goal is to be world champions at the end of the year so it's out-of-mind. I don't worry about it."

Clemens is in the final year of his contract and admitted he's already thinking about his professional future.

"I'd be lying if I said I don't think that Mark being here changes things," Clemens said. "There is a reality to this business.

"But, again, I go back to my approach. I am in the fourth year of a four-year deal. I love my teammates, my coaches, this area. I am going out this year and my expectations haven't changed since the draft.

"I expect to be under center opening day in Houston. Is it long term? What is long term in the NFL?"