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Pennington's shoulder holds up in Jets' loss to Bucs

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- Even if Eric Mangini isn't ready to say it,
Chad Pennington looks like a quarterback ready to reclaim his job.

Playing for the first time since undergoing a second major
operation on his right shoulder, Pennington worked two series in
the New York Jets' 16-3 preseason loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
on Friday night.

"It's fun to be back out there with my teammates. That's most
important," Pennington said. "You miss that when you're
injured."

The seventh-year pro completed 9 of 14 passes for 54 yards and
lost a fumble when he was sacked early in the second quarter. But
more importantly for him and the Jets, his surgically repaired
shoulder withstood the first hits he's taken since Week 3 of last
season.

"I feel pretty good. I took a few shots, but everything worked
out fine. That's what you work hard for," Pennington said. "I was
pleased how everything turned out."

Whether he's officially No. 1, though, is unclear.

"That's completely up in the air," Mangini, the Jets'
first-year coach, said when asked about the quarterback rotation
for the next preseason game.

Rookie Bruce Gradkowski threw second-half touchdown passes of 11
yards to Paris Warren and 2 yards to third-round draft pick Maurice
Stovall for Tampa Bay, which pulled its first-team defense after
Pennington kept them on the field for a few more plays than the
Bucs would have liked.

"We didn't give up any points," Derrick Brooks, Tampa Bay's
All-Pro linebacker said. "But obviously we would like to get off
the field a little sooner."

Pennington completed his first five passes -- all short throws --
for 30 yards. He took his first real hit since the latest operation
on his right rotator cuff when he ran for 5 yards and was tackled
by cornerback Juran Bolden.

The New York quarterback sustained his first drive with three
third-down conversions, one a 9-yard completion to Tim Dwight. He
moved the ball deep into Tampa Bay territory on the Jets' second
possession, but fumbled when sacked by safety Kalvin Pearson on
third-and-goal from the 5.

Mangini declined to reveal a starter for the preseason opener.
Nevertheless, it wasn't a surprise when Pennington trotted onto the
field to take the first snap. He's been No. 1 for parts of the last
four seasons and has been having the best camp of any of the
candidates for the job.

"I thought Chad did a really nice job with handling the huddle,
with moving the football, with his decisions," Mangini said. "I
thought he did a really good job."

The coach gave a less favorable review of the Jets' performance
overall.

"Before the game, I talked to the players and said the
important things were focus, communication and finish. That's what
I was looking for," Mangini said.

"I think we did a pretty good job in the first half of moving
the football. But we couldn't finish the drives and they could
finish drives. That was the difference."

Rookie Kellen Clemens followed Pennington in the second quarter,
leading a drive that produced Mike Nugent's 20-yard field goal on
the last play of the half. Patrick Ramsey finished up for the Jets,
who did not use Brooks Bollinger.

Chris Simms started for Tampa Bay and played one series. Tim
Rattay directed a first-half field goal drive and Gradkowski, a
sixth-round draft pick from Toledo, played most of the second half,
completing 11 of 13 passes for 104 yards against New York's
reserves.

"Of course we had some mistakes, but you expect that in the
first preseason game," said Simms, who completed 2 of 3 passes for
5 yards. "We did some things well, too. It is a good building
block."

Nearly all of Tampa Bay's starters were out by the second
series, and three regulars on offense -- running back Carnell
"Cadillac" Williams, receiver Joey Galloway and tackle Kenyatta
Walker -- didn't play. Cornerback Brian Kelly was missing on defense
after being excused to attend to a personal matter.

Game notes
The Bucs rushed for 167 yards, with Earnest Graham gaining
69 on 17 carries and Carey Davis 67 on 14 attempts. ... The Jets
appeared to stop the second-quarter drive that ended with Matt
Bryant's 25-yard field goal when they recovered Michael Pittman's
fumble at the Bucs 42. Pittman was ruled down by contact, and the
Jets challenged the call. The replay review confirmed that Pittman
fumbled. However, the Jets were not awarded possession because the
officials couldn't determine who immediately recovered the ball.
... Bucs first-round draft pick Davin Joseph started at right guard
and second-rounder Jeremy Trueblood started at right tackle. ...
The Jets waived CB Bruce Thornton and claimed FB Jamar Martin off
waivers. DT Sione Pouha was placed on injured reserve.

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