A virus sidelined Chad Pennington.
HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) -- All of a sudden, the New York Jets have issues at quarterback.
Chad Pennington missed practice Wednesday with a stomach virus, and backup Quincy Carter went home to Georgia to be with his ailing mother. Pennington may not be able to practice Thursday, but Coach Herman Edwards is confident his franchise player will be ready for Saturday's playoff game against Pittsburgh.
"He'll play," Edwards said. "I would be shocked if he didn't."
Pennington called Edwards on Tuesday night to say he was sick. He came to Jets headquarters Wednesday and tried to practice, but Edwards took one look at him and sent him inside to get some rest. Carter went home Tuesday, so No. 3 quarterback Brooks Bollinger took the snaps with the first team offense at practice.
Edwards said he did not know when Carter would return. That means Bollinger would be the backup for the game, not exactly the ideal situation for the Jets, who need Pennington at his best to have a shot at beating the Steelers.
Comparisons to MJ
Pennington, who got sick from his wife and son, had intravenous fluids to help him get better.
"Generally when guys get sick they have good games," said Edwards, who also is under the weather. "I thought one time Michael Jordan got sick and he had, what, 100 points or something like that? Maybe that's a good sign when guys get sick."
Pennington is coming off his best game since straining his right rotator cuff in November, throwing for 279 yards in a 20-17 overtime wild card win over San Diego.
"If anything, it rests his arm another day," Edwards said. "There's always a positive in everything in life if you look at it that way. Now you can spin it the other way and say this glass is empty, but I've still got some water in it."
Pennington had one of his worst games of the season in the first meeting with Pittsburgh, throwing three interceptions and finishing with a quarterback rating of 33.6. It was his second game back since the injury, so he looked a little rusty.
The perfect game
But against the Chargers, Pennington threw long and short, and looked to be back to his old self.
"I think that's the only way we win, with Chad playing the way he did," Curtis Martin said earlier this week. "We need Chad to be the MVP of the playoffs for the New York Jets in order for us to win. It can take us all the way.
"Chad is the leader of this team. His play takes this team to a whole other level. When he's on point, a lot of other things can go wrong and we still seem to get the job done. We need that."
Meanwhile, defensive end John Abraham also is questionable with a sprained right knee and practiced Wednesday and would be a game-time decision.
But injuries to his two biggest players will not deter Edwards.
"I don't get hung up on all that stuff, I really don't," Edwards said. "I learned a long time ago you coach the players that are available. When they get back to practice, they get back to practice."
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.