With Jets QBs hurt, Bollinger could start

Hanging on by a thread at 0-2, Ravens likely will face third-string QB Sunday

September 27, 2005|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,Sun reporter

After two agonizing losses to start the season, the Ravens have finally caught a break, or at the very least, a team with a couple of badly beaten-up quarterbacks.

The New York Jets are expected to start third-string quarterback Brooks Bollinger against the Ravens because starter Chad Pennington and backup Jay Fiedler injured their shoulders Sunday.

This marks the first NFL start for Bollinger, who is in the third year of his career and has attempted only nine passes.

The news that Bollinger would likely start Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium came as a surprise to many of the Ravens players.

"I have never heard of Brooks Bollinger," linebacker Adalius Thomas said. "I don't want to take anything away from him or insult him. I'm pretty sure he hasn't heard of me either."

It's a tenuous period for the Jets offense, which ranks 27th in the NFL (one spot behind the Ravens).

A source told the Associated Press last night that Pennington will miss the rest of the season because of a torn right rotator cuff, the same injury that he had surgically repaired this offseason.

There are similar concerns about Fiedler, who acknowledged Sunday that his injury could be severe, too.

That leaves Bollinger as the Jets' only healthy quarterback.

"I'm just going out to try and execute the plays that they call with knowing that I have an understanding of how to manage a football game and what I need to do to help the team win," Bollinger told reporters in New York. "I'm not trying to make it into rocket science."

Bollinger, a former sixth-round draft pick out of Wisconsin, has appeared in just one NFL game. He replaced an injured Quincy Carter last year against Arizona, completing five of nine passes for 60 yards.

Bollinger is one of seven Big Ten quarterbacks to win 30 games in a career. He also set the Wisconsin school record for quarterbacks with 518 carries for 1,767 yards rushing and 26 touchdowns.

Still, his inconsistency as a passer has caused him to remain the No. 3 quarterback. The Jets chose to sign Fiedler as a free agent this offseason rather than promote Bollinger to being the primary backup.

"He's an athletic quarterback," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "He moves around the pocket real well and throws the ball well. Based on what I've seen so far, he fits the profile they've been throwing up to now. So I don't know that they're going to have to make huge dramatic change if indeed he's the quarterback."

In their two games against backup quarterbacks last season - the Jets' Carter and the Dolphins' Sage Rosenfels - the Ravens forced three total turnovers yet only won by a combined 10 points.

"We don't underestimate anybody," defensive end Tony Weaver said. "There's a reason this guy [Bollinger] is in the NFL. If he puts on a Jets uniform, he can play. We just have to go out there and stick to our game plan."

The Jets are coming off a nightmarish, 26-20 overtime loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Pennington left early in the third quarter after getting sacked on consecutive plays.

During his sixth play in place of Pennington, Fiedler was hit while throwing a pass and landed awkwardly on his right arm. Pennington came back to lead the Jets to two field goals but said after the game that the injury felt "similar" to last year's.

The Jets will look to sign a backup either today or tomorrow.

"I'd imagine they're going to have to stay with the team profile they have right now," Billick said. "That's what we'll prepare for."

While the Jets endured a physical game Sunday, the Ravens are coming off the bye week healthy (with the exception of quarterback Kyle Boller's hyperextended toe) and refreshed.

Billick's message to his players remained the same: Leave the troublesome start behind and keep looking ahead.

"We understand the position we put ourselves in and what the previous two weeks were about," Billick said. "But it does absolutely no good to focus on that. Then, when we get to the end of the season, we'll see what kind of position the first two games have put us in."


Jets@Ravens Sunday, 4:05 p.m., Ch. 13, 1300 AM, 102.7 FM Line: Off the board

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