League sources from within and also outside of the New York Jets' organization told ESPN's Chris Mortensen and ESPN.com's Len Pasquarelli on Tuesday that orthopedic specialist Dr. James Andrews apprised franchise officials and Chad Pennington that the quarterback may not have suffered a torn rotator cuff, as originally diagnosed by team physicians during an MRI exam on Monday.
Andrews, the renowned Birmingham, Ala.-based specialist who performed the February surgery on Pennington to repair a rotator cuff tear, also told the quarterback and the Jets that he does not believe the latest injury is career-threatening.
While the six-year veteran is not expected to play again in 2005 -- Jets coach Herman Edwards announced earlier Tuesday, in fact, that Pennington will miss the remainder of the season -- Andrews was unable during his Tuesday examination of the quarterback's right shoulder to make a definitive diagnosis. Dye was injected into the shoulder but there was, a source said, "minimal leakage," making a definitive assessment difficult for now.
Andrews told Pennington that, if the recent injury is just a tearing of scar tissue and adhesions, and not a fresh tear, the quarterback might be able to play again in 2005. Even if that is the case, though, a Jets source said the team is likely to be "prudent to a fault" with Pennington, and not try to put him on the field again this season.
New York also lost backup quarterback Jay Fiedler, who suffered a partially dislocated right shoulder last Sunday, for an indefinite period.
"I think the best thing [the Jets] can do," said one source, "is sit Chad and not let him back on the field until every party to this is convinced that his shoulder is 100 percent recovered. One-hundred percent recovered and one-hundred percent agreement that he is recovered. That should be the minimum standard now. Until then, he [rehabilitates] and he sits. That's how it ought to be."
Beyond the football ramifications for the Jets, there are financial implications as well, and so the long-term viability of Pennington as the club's franchise-level quarterback carries significant weight in several areas. Before the 2004 season, the team signed Pennington to a seven-year, $64 million contract extension that included bonuses totaling $23 million.
The Jets on Tuesday morning signed 18-year veteran quarterback Vinny Testaverde and are expected to add another signal-caller, perhaps by Wednesday. Third-year pro Brooks Bollinger, a sixth-round draft choice in 2003, will make his first regular-season start on Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens.
During Dr. Andrews' examination and meeting with Pennington in Birmingham, on Tuesday, the orthopedist instructed the quarterback to perform specific rehabilitation techniques and exercises over the next 10 days. After that, Andrews might then perform an exploratory arthroscopic procedure on the shoulder to further examine the injury.
ESPN.com senior NFL writer Len Pasquarelli and ESPN's Chris Mortensen contributed to this report.