Thursday, March 31, 2011

Chad Pennington tears ACL in pickup basketball game

Impending free agent quarterback Chad Pennington experienced yet another tough break this week, as he suffered a torn ACL in a pickup basketball game in Miami. Dr. James Andrews will perform surgery on Pennington's knee next week.

It represents the latest in a long line of injuries for the 34-year-old former Miami Dolphins quarterback, who has undergone four shoulder surgeries since a 2004 rotator cuff injury suffered with the New York Jets.

Pennington, who arrived in Miami shortly after his release from the Jets in August 2008, led the Dolphins to an AFC East title after passing for 3,653 yards and 17 touchdowns with a passer rating of 97.4.

2008 second-rounder Chad Henne took over for Pennington as the team's starting quarterback three games into the season due to a shoulder injury, and Pennington attempted just two passes in 2010 before yet another shoulder injury wiped out his season.

Slated for free agency whenever the 2011 offseason actually begins, it was reported that Pennington was not yet ready to call it quits and could possibly land a short-term starting job on the open market. The Dolphins were also reportedly interested in retaining the veteran.

With training camp scheduled to start in roughly four months, it now seems unlikely that Pennington will be able to recover from the knee injury, which usually takes 6-9 months to fully heal, in time to take the helm for anyone heading into the 2011 season.

It's also unlikely that any franchise would gamble on rolling with Pennington as their starting quarterback, even as a short-term option, given his recent inability to stay on the field.

Widely regarded as one of the most intelligent and accurate quarterbacks in the NFL today, Pennington may have to strongly consider a move to coaching sooner than he'd like.

As for the Dolphins, the team will likely continue with their plans to add a highly-drafted quarterback to push Henne for the starting job in 2011 and beyond. The team has already met with or scheduled meetings with nearly all of the top prospects at the position.

While Pennington would have been a nice presence as a veteran backup (and could still be of use as a coaching assistant or intern),  Henne remains the likely starter for the Dolphins entering the 2011 season.

Whether or not he remains the starter beyond that, or even the whole way through 2011, will depend on how well he performs and how quickly the Dolphins' soon-to-be-added rookie can develop.


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