Sure, Chad Pennington is still the starting quarterback in Miami. And, sure, when the Dolphins devoted yet another second-round pick to yet another quarterback in the 2009 draft, some wondered whether the guy taken in the second round of the 2008 draft was still on track to become the starter.
For now, it looks like Chad Henne remains on deck, and that he’ll replace Pennington at some point in the future.
Coach Tony Sparano said Tuesday that, on Thursday night against the Buccaneers, Pennington will play into the third quarter, and Henne will go the rest of the way.
“I think he has come a long way,” Sparano said of Henne in quotes circulated by the team. “One of the biggest things is that he has full command of the offense. There is no — we are not hiding anything with Chad out there. We are giving him everything. He is able to do anything right now where a year ago, you were not able to do those things. Game has really slowed down for him right now, I think. He can come off the field, communicate pretty clear right now with what he is seeing. That is pretty good, it really is.”
It’s good enough to relegate Pat White, the 2009 second-rounder, to spot duty at most on Thursday night, if Sparano decides to show his Wildcat hand at all.
And it could be good enough to put Pennington on the bench at some point in 2009.
Assuming Pennington doesn’t get injured (which, given his history, might be one of those “ass-you-me” assumptions), the Dolphins will have to remain in the thick of things in the AFC East to keep Pennington on the field. If/when the Fins slide out of contention, it will make plenty of sense to see what Henne can do.
The tougher question will come if/when the Dolphins are fading but not yet finished. Will Sparano at some point go with Henne in an effort to spark the team?
Time will tell, and it’ll be an interesting subplot if at the Week Six bye the Dolphins are on the wrong side of .500 after opening with the Falcons, Colts, Chargers, Bills, and Jets.