Pennington’s injury should come as a warning to players who don’t have insurance

Miami Dolphins quarterback Chad Pennington passes under pressure by San Diego Chargers linebacker Shaun Phillips during the first half of their NFL football game in San Diego, California September 27, 2009. REUTERS/Mike Blake (UNITED STATES SPORT FOOTBALL)

ESPN’s Chris Mortensen is reporting that Chad Pennington will need surgery after tearing his ACL in a pickup basketball on Thursday. Pennington, who is now a shoe-in to win the I’m the Unluckiest Bastard in the World award yet again this year, can probably put to rest any thoughts of another NFL comeback.

Now, if this were 2002 or even 2008, Pennington tearing his knee would be big news on its own. But with apologies to the Pennington family, it’s not now. The big news here is that a player just got seriously hurt during the lockout and for those in need of a reminder, the NFL stopped the players’ insurance the moment they locked them out.

Pennington seems like he’s on top of things so I would image he sought the advice of his union when it told him to make sure that he has insurance during the lockout. But there are 1,700-plus players in the NFL – what’s the chances that all 1,700-plus players acted swiftly and made sure they were covered as well? Don’t forget, we’re talking about 23, 24, 25-year-old kids here that think they’re invincible. How many of them are rolling the dice right now thinking they don’t have to have insurance, or who have put the task off hoping the lockout will end soon?

Maybe Pennington’s injury will serve as a wake up call for those that ignored the union’s letters and e-mails about attaining insurance. Freak injuries happen all the time and you know Pennington isn’t the only athlete playing pickup basketball, or hiking, or skiing, or whatever this offseason.

And thinking on an even grander scale, maybe Pennington’s injury will encourage the NFLPA to get back to the bargaining table and put an end to this CBA mess so that the NFL can start providing players with insurance again.

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Randy Moss held to just one catch in his Titans’ debut

EDEN PRAIRIE, MN - OCTOBER 7: Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Randy Moss answers questions from the media during a press conference at Winter Park on October 7, 2010 in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)

Somewhere in Pittsburgh right now, Patriots’ coach Bill Belichick just read Randy Moss’ stat line from his first game as a Titan and said, “Suck it, Randy.”

After being a malcontent in his previous two stops, Moss is now working on his third team this season and he’s already 0-1. While he was targeted four times in the Titans’ 29-17 loss to the Dolphins on Sunday, he caught just one pass for 26 yards in his Tennessee debut.

And that catch didn’t come until the Titans’ final drive in the fourth quarter.

Moss spent most of the day riding the bench and he even admitted after the game that he wasn’t as good as he could be.

“My debut, man, it was actually a bad game for me. I think I just tried to be as much help to them as I could, just try to play within the offense. So I felt comfortable out there, but I don’t think that I had a very good overall game. I think that my blocking really wasn’t that good, where I wanted it to be. So I’ll just go back at the drawing board and come back again next week.”

As for the players who did factor into the game, Chad Henne completed 19-of-28 passes for 240 yards with one touchdown and an interception. The only reason Henne was in the game was because Chad Pennington (who’s season, if not career, is likely over with) hurt his shoulder just two snaps into the first quarter. Then Henne injured his knee in the second half and had to be replaced by Tyler Thigpen, who completed 4-of-6 passes for 64 yards and a touchdown.

Henne, who was on crutches following the game, will have an MRI on his knee Sunday night. If he can’t go, Thigpen would get the nod against the Bears next week.

The win was big for the Dolphins, who remain two games behind the Jets in the division. The loss drops the Titans a game back of the Colts in both the win and loss columns, and into a tie with the Jaguars at 5-4.

Dolphins to start Pennington over Henne on Sunday

MIAMI - SEPTEMBER 21: Quarterback Chad Pennington #10 of the Miami Dolphins throws a pass against the Indianapolis Colts at Land Shark Stadium on September 21, 2009 in Miami, Florida. The Colts defeated the Dolphins 27-23. (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

Looking for more consistency at the quarterback position, the Dolphins have decided to bench Chad Henne in favor of Chad Pennington for their game this Sunday against the Titans.

Henne essentially won Miami’s starting quarterback job last year by completing just over 60% of his passes and compiling a 75.2 QB Rating. Those numbers aren’t great of course, but they were impressive for a quarterback in just his second season (his first as a full-time starter).

But in eight starts this season, Henne has thrown eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions for the 4-4 Dolphins. His decision-making has been questionable at best and he’s thrown an inception in six straight games. He’s also failed to find Brandon Marshall in the red zone, as the receiver has just one touchdown on the year.

Pennington led the Dolphins to the playoffs in 2008 (his first year in Miami), but he hasn’t attempted a pass since Week 3 of last year. He suffered a season-ending shoulder injury that required surgery, although he didn’t look sharp in any game before that. It was also the third time he’s had to have his shoulder operated on and this is a guy who never had a strong arm to begin with. Miami’s vertical passing game definitely takes a hit with this change.

That said, Pennington is a crafty veteran that knows how to find open receivers and not force passes into coverage. He often takes what the defense gives him and at the very least, he won’t put the Dolphins in a bad position by turning the ball over. He may not win the game for Miami, but he won’t lose it either.

Top 10 active NFL passer rating leaders

The NFL draft is over and free agency is kind of in a lull. Mini-camps and stories about letting Pacman back into the league, JaMarcus Russell being released, or what counseling Big Ben is attending just don’t help the football jones we all have. So that’s why we’re back with a few Top 10 lists to ponder. This one for the active NFL passer ratings is good because it’s a solid indicator of who you might think about drafting for your fantasy team come August or September. And hey, we’re just a few months away!

1. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers (97.2)—Rodgers really emerged last season with 103.2 rating, especially once his line decided to keep him upright. He and the two guys immediately below him should win at least one ring in their careers solely because of their own talent.

2. Phillip Rivers, San Diego Chargers (95.8)—Rivers has topped 104 in QB rating the last two seasons. If you told me I could have one quarterback to win one game, I’m not sure this isn’t the guy I’d take. In fact, he IS the guy I’d take.

3. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys (95.6)—Romo cut down his interceptions drastically in 2009, but the pundits and fans in Dallas still couldn’t lay off the guy. I’m telling you, they don’t know how good they have it with Romo at QB. As a Giants fan, this is one guy I cringe when facing.

4. Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts (95.2)—Always solid, but Manning needed a freakish 121.1 rating in 2004 and two more seasons after that over 100 to make up for some really bad years early in his career. Still, he’s Peyton Freaking Manning.

5. Tom Brady, New England Patriots (93.3)—Speaking of freakish, Brady’s 117.2 in 2007 kicked him up a few spots here. You know, maybe this is the guy I want in a must-win game, but then again, he’s shown to be slightly damaged goods since the 2008 opener.

6. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints (91.9)—Brees finally won that elusive ring in 2009, and he also led the NFL with a 109.6 QB rating as well as a ridiculous 70.6 completion percentage. Yeah, I’d say he earned that ring.

7. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers (91.7)—A great quarterback that sadly has so much baggage, he has the Steelers and their fans wondering if he’s worth it. The two Super Bowl wins surely don’t hurt, but has Ben peaked?

8. Matt Schaub, Houston Texans (91.3)—Finally healthy a full season, this guy was fantasy gold in 2009. Look for his QB rating number to continue climbing—well, assuming he still has Andre Johnson to throw to.

9. Chad Pennington, Miami Dolphins (90.1)—He hasn’t quite matched his 104.2 mark in 2002, but Pennington was always an underrated QB. And kind of still is. I mean, this guy is still a backup? I can think of at least three teams he’d be starting for.

10. Carson Palmer, Cincinnati Bengals (87.9)—He hasn’t reached 90 in QB rating since 2006, but it’s not often you hear anyone say a bad thing about Mr. Palmer.

Notable omissions: Not on this list are Donovan McNabb, Brett Favre, Eli Manning and Matt Hasselbeck. Okay, really, just the first two are surprising, but then again, maybe not so surprising.

Source: Pro Football Reference

Dolphins acquire Thigpen from Chiefs

According to the Chiefs’ official website, Kansas City traded quarterback Tyler Thigpen to the Dolphins for an undisclosed draft pick.

Miami was forced to make this move after Chad Pennington suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in a loss to the Chargers in Week 3. With only Chad Henne and Pat White on the depth chart, Thigpen gives the Dolphins more experience at the quarterback position.

That said, Henne will remain the Dolphins’ starter because the team wants to get a better look at the former second round pick out of Michigan. Given Pennington’s age (33) and injury history, there’s a good chance that Miami won’t re-sign him when he becomes a free agent in the offseason. But they still want to see whether or not Henne is capable of taking over the starting job before the jettison a veteran quarterback like Pennington, who led Miami to an AFC East title last season.

As for the Chiefs, they were hoping to acquire a fourth round pick in exchange for Thigpen this summer after they traded for Matt Cassel, but I doubt they got more than a fifth rounder from Miami.

Thigpen isn’t a bad fantasy quarterback. He was QB12 last year even though he was second string early in the season. His 18.8 fppg average was 10th-best in the league. He posted some good garbage time numbers for the Chiefs because they were trailing for most of the season. The job is Henne’s to start, but if he falters or gets injured, Thigpen could be a sneaky good pickup in deeper fantasy leagues.

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