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Taking one for the team

Jets' Pennington played while hurt

New York Jets quarterback Chad Pennington has a torn right rotator cuff, an injury he played with for the final six games of the season.

Pennington was hurt Nov. 7 against Buffalo after he was hit hard following a scramble. An initial MRI exam showed the tear, but the team announced Pennington had a strain. After sitting out three weeks, Pennington returned to play.

Team doctor Elliot Pellman revealed the extent of the injury yesterday. Pellman said the team is hopeful Pennington will be ready for the start of training camp in July but made no promises.

He said Pennington came back because there was a minimal risk of damaging the shoulder further. But it appeared Pennington lost velocity on his passes once he did return, and coach Herman Edwards said the franchise quarterback was playing through pain.

A second MRI following the Jets' 20-17 overtime loss to Pittsburgh in the second round of the playoffs showed there was no additional damage.

Pennington will have surgery shortly after the Super Bowl Feb. 6. Renowned specialist Dr. James Andrews will perform the surgery.

Jaguars hire Smith The Jacksonville Jaguars hired Southern California quarterbacks coach Carl Smith as offensive coordinator. The 56-year-old Smith replaces Bill Musgrave, who was fired after the Jaguars finished last in the AFC and 29th in the league in scoring last season. Smith tutored Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Matt Leinart last season. He has been an offensive coordinator for 11 seasons in his career, which includes 12 years at the collegiate level, three in the USFL, and 17 in the NFL. He was an assistant with the Patriots from 1997-99 . . . New Miami Dolphins coach Nick Saban named Hudson Houck his offensive line coach. Houck, an NFL assistant the past 22 years, spent the last three in the same position with San Diego. His group helped the Chargers' offense rank 10th in the league this season, including sixth in rushing, as San Diego went 12-4 and won the AFC West . . . Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Eric Crouch signed with the Kansas City Chiefs in another attempt to make the NFL as a defensive back . . . In Seattle, former Pro Bowl running back Chris Warren pleaded guilty to nonpayment of child support. The 38-year-old Warren is scheduled for sentencing May 9 before US Magistrate John Weinberg. Warren's last known residence was in Virginia, and his two daughters live in Washington state . . . Charles Martin, the former Green Bay defensive end who body-slammed Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon into the turf and ended his season in 1986, has died. He was 46. Martin, who played for the Packers, Houston Oilers, and Atlanta Falcons during his five-year NFL career, died Sunday at Memorial Southwest Hospital in Houston. "He probably died from complications of his renal [kidney] disease," Charles Aramburo, Martin's surgeon, told Houston television station KRIV.

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