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The curious case of Kellen Clemens

8/11/2010

On Day 1, Rex Ryan said recently-signed Mark Brunell would start camp as the No. 2 quarterback, intimating he'd be competing against Kellen Clemens for the job.

On Day 10, Ryan all but ended the competition, saying it was "pretty much a lock" that Brunell would be the No. 2.

On Day 11 (Wednesday), Clemens admitted, "It wasn't much of a competition."

That's an understatement. In reality, this was over before it started, and Ryan admitted as much Wednesday, saying the decision was "pre-determined." He's the coach and he gets to make the decisions, but it left Clemens a bit confused. He entered camp thinking he had a legitimate shot at No. 2.

"That was my understanding," he said.

This was the latest setback in a career of setbacks. Consider Clemens' career competitions:

2006: As a rookie, he's included in a four-way competition with Chad Pennington, Patrick Ramsey and Brooks Bollinger. Pennington wins.

2007: He goes from backup to starter, posting a 3-5 record in a lousy season for the Jets.

2008: He starts camp in a battle with Pennington. It lasts only two weeks, ending when the team trades for Brett Favre.

2009: Favre "retires" (ha, ha) and, for the early part of the offseason, it's Clemens vs. Brett Ratliff vs. Erik Ainge for the starting job. It's short-lived. Mark Sanchez arrives on draft day, and wins a so-called open competition in training camp.

2010: Clemens "loses" the backup job to Brunell. In a span of two years, he lost jobs to Favre and to the player that backed up Favre with the Green Bay Packers in 1993 and 1994.

Now the question is, will Clemens make the team as the No. 3 quarterback?

"That's about all that's left, isn't it?" Clemens said with a laugh.

Clemens has been victimized by some weird circumstances, and the Jets definitely could've handled this better, but he's a good soldier and refused to rip the organization. Asked if he feels "hoodwinked," Clemens replied: "I wouldn't say hoodwinked, but it's been an adventure the last couple of years."

Clemens believes he will be on the opening-day roster, but his salary ($1.1 million) could become an issue. That's a lot of coin for a third-string player. Prediction: If the Jets don't trade Clemens (a possibility, especially if another team loses a backup in the preseason), they will ask him to take a pay cut.

Cold business, the NFL.