The New York Jets signed veteran quarterback Vinny Testaverde yesterday, with starter Chad Pennington having been told Monday that he'll miss the rest of the season and backup Jay Fiedler also sidelined for an extended period.
Coach Herman Edwards said that Testaverde will be the Jets' backup quarterback Sunday in Baltimore behind new starter Brooks Bollinger, who has played one regular season game and thrown nine passes in the NFL. The Jets plan to sign another quarterback to be third on the depth chart.
"I hope this doesn't happen to any coach ever, ever, ever," Edwards said during an afternoon news conference. "It isn't a lot of fun. I don't wish this on any coach. It tests your faith."
Testaverde, who turns 42 in November, played for the Jets between 1998 and 2003 before spending last season in Dallas as the Cowboys' starter in a failed reunion with Coach Bill Parcells. Testaverde called Edwards late Monday to express his interest in returning to the Jets. "I said, 'Why'd you wait so long?' " said Edwards, who made the quarterback wait until yesterday morning before giving him an answer.
Pennington and Fiedler were in Birmingham yesterday to be examined by orthopedist James Andrews. According to an NFL source, Andrews was uncertain after examining Pennington whether the quarterback had suffered a new tear of the rotator cuff in his right shoulder. Andrews plans to do further tests in the coming weeks but, according to the source, it's unlikely that Pennington would play again this season no matter what Andrews determines. The Jets' medical staff told Pennington that he has another rotator-cuff tear, and Edwards said earlier yesterday that he didn't expect Pennington or Fiedler to play again this season.
Pennington underwent surgery this past offseason for a torn rotator cuff, and re-injured the shoulder during Sunday's overtime loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. He signed a seven-year, $64.2 million contract extension with the Jets prior to last season but now faces uncertainty. He had an emotional talk Monday with Edwards.
"It's like talking to your son," said Edwards, who indicated he had no regrets about how Pennington's rehabilitation was handled and predicted that the quarterback will make a successful comeback. "What do you tell him? I don't know."
Fiedler suffered a dislocated shoulder Sunday after being signed in the offseason as an insurance policy in case Pennington's shoulder wasn't sound. The Jets began the season with Super Bowl aspirations but have a record of 1-2, and if the competitive portion of their season isn't over already, it soon could be.
"There are 13 games left," Edwards said. "We have to have a little spirit, and we have to go play."
Bumps and Bruises
The New England Patriots face a daunting task in replacing safety Rodney Harrison, who tore several ligaments in his left knee -- including the anterior cruciate ligament -- in Sunday's victory at Pittsburgh. The loss is a major blow to a unit still struggling to adjust to life without cornerback Ty Law, who was released in the offseason, and linebacker Tedy Bruschi, who is sitting out the season after suffering a stroke in February.
"Since he's been here," Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel said of Harrison, "he's been the heart and soul of our defense."
Harrison, 32, will undergo surgery in a few weeks, after the swelling in his knee subsides, and then begin rehabilitation toward possibly resuming his NFL career.
Patriots left tackle Matt Light also could be lost for the season. He suffered a broken bone in his right leg, just below the knee, during Sunday's game. Second-year safety Guss Scott -- who's essentially a rookie, since he missed all of last season with a knee injury -- replaced Harrison, and rookie Nick Kaczur filled in for Light. . . .
Anyone who thinks officials cost the Steelers the game Sunday should think again. The NFL acknowledged Monday that officials made a clock-management error in the fourth quarter that lengthened the game by 52 seconds. The Patriots won on a 43-yard field goal by kicker Adam Vinatieri with one second left, having moved into position for Vinatieri's kick after the Steelers tied the game with a touchdown with 1 minute 21 seconds remaining.
But the Patriots were so efficient on their final drive that they wasted time just before Vinatieri's kick to run down the clock. They reached the Pittsburgh 31-yard line with 57 seconds to play. . . .
Patriots Coach Bill Belichick's secretiveness about injuries apparently even extends to refusing medical help from the opposing team's trainer during a game. When Light was injured Sunday, Steelers trainer John Norwig ran on the field to assist, a standard practice in the NFL when a player appears to be seriously hurt.
Belichick came on to the field to get Norwig away from his player. . . .
Philadelphia Eagles Coach Andy Reid said Monday that he expects quarterback Donovan McNabb, who now has a bruised shin in addition to a bruised chest and a strained abdominal muscle, to play Sunday at Kansas City. But McNabb's injuries are becoming a major concern to the Eagles. McNabb was in obvious discomfort Sunday because of his abdominal injury. The Eagles had referred to the ailment last week as a groin injury, but there is speculation that it could be a sports hernia. . . .
The Arizona Cardinals will be without quarterback Kurt Warner, who has a strained groin muscle, Sunday night against the San Francisco 49ers in Mexico City. That takes even more luster off the first NFL regular season game to be played on foreign soil, which matches the winless Cardinals with the 1-2 49ers. Former starter Josh McCown replaced Warner last weekend and likely will start Sunday. . . .
New Orleans Saints safety Jay Bellamy will miss the rest of the season because of a torn rotator cuff. . . .
There again is dissension within the New York Giants about the rigid ways of Coach Tom Coughlin. Coughlin benched wide receiver Plaxico Burress for the first two offensive series in Sunday night's loss at San Diego, apparently for being late to two team meetings last week. That approach drew public criticism Monday by tight end Jeremy Shockey, who told reporters that Burress perhaps should have been punished in a way that didn't hurt the entire team. . . .
Rookie tailback Carnell "Cadillac" Williams has had a spectacular first three games, amassing a league-leading 434 rushing yards for unbeaten Tampa Bay. The only concern is whether the Buccaneers are risking wearing him. Williams has had 88 carries, including 37 (for 158 yards) in Sunday's 17-16 victory at Green Bay.
"We wouldn't be putting him in these situations if we didn't know he could do it," Coach Jon Gruden said. "It's not a coincidence he's playing his best football late in the game. . . . If the situation has us with the lead [and] we're in the fourth quarter . . . you are going to see more Cadillac Williams, yes." . . .
The Cowboys are staying in the Bay Area this week and plan to practice at San Jose State. They played at San Francisco last weekend and are playing Sunday at Oakland.