Chad Pennington has mastered NFL quarterbacking. And personal comebacks.
For the second time in three years, Pennington is the Associated Press NFL Comeback Player of the Year. The Miami Dolphins star is the first player in the 11 seasons of the award to win it twice.
"This time last year, I'm getting ready to watch the ball drop in Times Square. No playoffs, no starting job, no anything," Pennington said yesterday, reflecting on the end of his 2007 season with the Jets.
"Now here we are playing in a wild-card playoff game with a team that was 1-15 the year before," he added.
Pennington was coming back from being benched in New York last season, then discarded this summer when the Jets acquired Brett Favre. Two years ago, Pennington returned from two rotator cuff operations in eight months in 2005 and led the Jets to the playoffs to grab comeback honors.
The Dolphins won the AFC East championship, Miami's first since 2000.
Jets eye Ryan
The New York Jets have received permission to speak with Baltimore defensive coordinator Rex Ryan
for their vacant head coaching job, a person familiar with the search said.
With Bill Cowher withdrawing his name from consideration Tuesday night, the Jets have an ever-growing list of candidates that could include fired Denver coach Mike Shanahan.
Whether Favre plays for the Jets' new coach remains to be seen. The 39-year-old quarterback reportedly has a torn biceps tendon in his right arm that doesn't require major surgery, but he'll likely take several weeks before deciding whether he wants to return for a 19th season.
No formal interview had been scheduled with the 46-year-old Ryan, who's in his fourth season leading the Ravens' defense.
The Jets, who fired Eric Mangini Monday, will interview a pair of in-house candidates tomorrow: offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and offensive line coach Bill Callahan, who also served as assistant head coach under Mangini.
New York Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo will meet with the team Saturday.
Time for a change
In a tear-filled news conference the day after firing Shanahan, Broncos owner Pat Bowlen
gave no timetable for hiring the coach's replacement. Bowlen says he fired Shanahan after 14 seasons because, simply, he felt it was time for a change. Bowlen says he anticipated the new coach would not have full say over personnel moves, the way Shanahan did. That means the Broncos might hire a general manager, but Bowlen says his priority was hiring a new coach first . . . The Detroit Lions are interested in speaking to Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier
about their vacant head coaching job. Vikings coach Brad Childress
confirmed the contact by the Lions, who fired coach Rod Marinelli
after an NFL-worst 0-16 finish . . . San Francisco coach Mike Singletary
fired quarterbacks coach Ted Tollner
and running backs coach Tony Nathan
. . . The Dallas Cowboys fired special teams coach Bruce Read
, making him the first assistant ousted in the wake of a disappointing 9-7 season . . . The Tennessee Titans returned to practice with Pro Bowl defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth
(sprained knee), end Kyle Vanden Bosch
(groin), and center Kevin Mawae
(right elbow) all watching. Luckily, they have a first-round bye so the trio can keep healing. The Titans will host Baltimore, San Diego, or Indianapolis . . . After sitting out the last two games with a shoulder injury, Arizona wide receiver Anquan Boldin
went through a limited workout and said he felt fine, so there was no doubt he would play Saturday when the Cardinals are home in a wild-card game against the Atlanta Falcons . . . The Chargers' LaDainian Tomlinson
plans to be more cautious about his groin injury going into Saturday's home wild-card playoff game against the Colts. Tomlinson sat out practice yesterday and plans to take it easy today.
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