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Jets Journal

Jane McManus of The Journal News on the Jets.

Ainge is MIA

April
13

Erik Ainge is technically in the running for the Jets quarterback spot. It’s an opportunity not always afforded to the third-stringer, a fifth-round draft pick last season, but the Jets brass have 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, or the positional classes that follow. A Jets spokesperson said that the sessions are technically voluntary, but every roster player other than Thomas Jones, currently in a contract negotiation with the team, is there to learn the new system being implemented by new coach Rex Ryan.

Ainge was at the facility on Thurs. March 26, the first time the media was 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 full week.

His agent, James Sexton, did not return several calls seeking a comment on the situation. The Jets would not comment other than to say the sessions are voluntary.

In the audio clip below, Ainge responds to a question about the three-way quarterback competition on March 26.

032609ainge

The workouts are not mandatory, but for a player starting a distant third in a position race, these weeks are critical if he is going to make a play for the starting or backup job. Ryan has said that this is a truly open competition for the in-house candidates, which is backed up by the half-hearted way the team pursued Jay Cutler before he was acquired by the Bears.

Ainge dealt with a few setbacks last season, and 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 finger and a brace limited his ability to throw.

Once that was healed, Ainge hurt his foot and was placed on injured reserve. Ainge was later found in violation the NFL’s policy on steroids and related substances in November, and was suspended for four games. He denied he had taken steroids when he came back.

After the Jets season ended without making the playoffs, Ainge returned to the Jets facility about a month later to begin working out in preparation for the quarterback competition to replace Favre.

“I think Erik Ainge had a meaningful impact on our team this year, despite the fact he did get hurt and had some other little bumps in the road, but I am really glad that Erik Ainge is with us,” Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum said on Feb. 20. “He has every opportunity to compete for playing time and the best players will play and that is what is really fun from where I sit in the world.”

Ainge picked up No. 10 this season, the number worn by Chad Pennington until the veteran left the Jets for Miami last August. Ainge played for the University of Tennessee, where he was the SEC offensive freshman of the year.

Posted by Jane McManus on Monday, April 13th, 2009 at 10:26 pm |


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The Favre Effect

March
31

When Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum was asked if the one-year Brett Favre experiment could be termed a failure, he said no and added that the Jets would benefit from Favre’s presence on the roster for years to come.

At the time, the Jets were still in the wake of (get out your hankies) the Interception Era, five horrible games to end a season that had seemed destined for the playoffs. Tannenbaum’s words seemed like spin designed to put the best light on Favre’s tenure here.

With the passage of a few months however, and the Jets appearing to be seriously considering the in house candidates Brett Rattliff, Kellen Clemens and to a much lesser extent Erik Ainge, maybe there was something to what Tannenbaum said after all.

Each of the three quarterbacks contending to take his starting job say they got something out of Favre’s time in New York. Ainge said he’d always thought things came naturally to Favre, but hadn’t realized how hard he actually had to work to give off the easy-going appearance.

032609ainge

Ratliff said that the biggest thing he learned was how to have fun, and that Favre was, 17 years his senior, a bigger kid than the younger quarterback.

032609ratty

Clemens said he had spoken to Favre recently, as well as former Jets quarterback Chad Pennington. He said that being able to watch Favre last season is something that will make him a better quarterback.

032609clemens

“I’ve now had an opportunity to sit back and watch one the greatest to ever play the game last year go through everything that he had to go through,” Clemens said. “It was a very unique opportunity I tried to make the most of.”

Posted by Jane McManus on Tuesday, March 31st, 2009 at 10:35 am |


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A team of Journal News reporters share their thoughts on the Jets with the Lower Hudson fans.

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About the author
Jane McManusJane McManus joined The Journal News in 1999, after working at The Daily News and Newsday. Since she's been here, she's covered everything from girls basketball to the Final Four, the U.S. Open of both golf and tennis and recreational sports from rock climbing to roller derby (which she liked so much she joined the team). READ MORE
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