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Healthy Pennington, playmaking Jones have Jets excited about offense

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) -Chad Pennington doesn't need to look over his surgically repaired right shoulder in training camp these days.

The New York Jets quarterback is feeling good this summer, completely healthy a year after entering camp in a four-man competition because of the uncertainty surrounding his arm.

"I'm excited when I step off the field - to be able to step into the film room and watch my film to get better mentally and not have to immediately go to the training room to get treatment on my shoulder," he said.

Pennington, whose rotator cuff was operated on in consecutive years, won the quarterback job last summer. He responded with the first full season of his career and has looked mostly sharp early in training camp.

That's good news for a Jets offense that added a bona fide No. 1 running back in Thomas Jones and could score in bunches this season. New York finished the regular season ranked 25th in total offense and scored 30 or more points just twice.

"We are excited about the potential, but we have a lot of work to do. We really do." Pennington said. "All of our veterans know what to do; we're trying to learn how to do it better."

Last summer, Pennington competed with Patrick Ramsey, Brooks Bollinger and rookie Kellen Clemens. This year, coach Eric Mangini ended the suspense in February by predictably naming last season's Comeback Player of the Year the starter.

"When you have one guy, you get used to him," wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery said. "Everyone becomes one with that one guy in the huddle. Everyone just feeds off the quarterback."

Added receiver Laveranues Coles: "He doesn't have this dark cloud hanging over his head and everybody second-guessing him."

The addition of Jones should also be a big help for a team that never settled at running back last season. By acquiring the muscle-bound Jones from the NFC champion Chicago Bears, New York finally has a replacement for the recently retired Curtis Martin.

"I don't look in the past; I'm just looking into the future and to work with what we have here," said Jones, who rushed for 1,210 yards and six touchdowns last year.

Leon Washington, who led the team with 650 yards rushing, most likely will assume the No. 2 job as a speedy and shifty change-of-pace runner.

"He's been to the big dance, so he knows what it takes to get there," said Washington, who was back at practice Sunday after missing Saturday's session for personal reasons. "Having that leadership on the team, especially on offense, is big for us."

Jones and new fullback Darian Barnes could have immediate impacts on the play-action, a key to Pennington's past success. With the instability at running back last year, Pennington might have been forced into trying to make things happen, as evidenced by his career-high 16 interceptions.

"If we can be multiple and versatile, that will make us better," Pennington said.

The Jets plan to work Brad Smith into the quarterback rotation. That's less a threat to Pennington's hold on the starting job as it is to opposing defenses. Smith, a quarterback at Missouri, played last season mostly at wide receiver.

"He's such a change-of-pace-type player that other teams are going to have to prepare because you're not limited to saying Brad has to get five plays in a row," Mangini said. "Now, at any given point you can say, 'Brad, go in and run this play."'

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