Erik Ainge is technically in the running for the Jets' quarterback job. It's an opportunity not often afforded the third-stringer, a fifth-round draft pick last season, but the Jets' brass has been sincere in extending it.
So why isn't Ainge there to take advantage?
For the last two weeks, Ainge has not been at the morning workouts at the Jets' training facility. A Jets spokesperson said that the workouts are technically voluntary, but every roster player other than running back Thomas Jones, currently in a contract negotiation with the team, is there to learn the system being implemented by new coach Rex Ryan.
Ainge was at the facility on March 26, the first time the media were allowed back to talk to players. For the last two weeks, however, he has not been in the locker room for that availability, and several teammates said they had not seen him at the facility in at least a week.
His agent, James Sexton, did not return numerous calls seeking comment on the situation. The Jets would only say that the sessions are voluntary.
Ainge was the fourth player at his position behind Brett Favre, Kellen Clemens and Brett Ratliff. Before the offseason training activities began last season, Ainge had a procedure done on his right pinkie, and a brace limited his ability to throw.
Once that healed, Ainge hurt his foot and was placed on injured reserve. Ainge was found in violation theNFL's policy on steroids and related substances in November and was suspended for four games. When he came back, he denied he had taken steroids.