Ainge says he has ‘great shot' to start

New York Jets coach Rex Ryan has said that half the organization is pulling for Kellen Clemens, while the others are rooting for Brett Ratliff.

So where does that leave Erik Ainge?

Ainge was a fifth-round pick last year who had an impressive career at Tennessee, but was beset by injuries and a suspension for violating the league’s policy on steroids and related substances.

“I feel healthy for the first time in a long time,” he said. “I feel healthy and I feel confident.”

While considered a long shot to win the starting job, Ainge has impressive credentials. He ranks third in Volunteers history behind Peyton Manning and Casey Clausen with 8,700 yards passing.

“I feel like I have a great shot,” Ainge said. “Obviously, you can’t give three quarterbacks equal reps. I’ll have to fight, scratch and take advantage of every opportunity that I get.”

When Brett Favre retired last month, it appeared to set the stage for the three-way competition — until the Jay Cutler rumors began swirling.

Several teams, including the Jets, have contacted the Denver Broncos about Cutler’s availability.

Meanwhile, Ryan has told anyone who’ll listen that he’s comfortable with the quarterbacks he has on his roster, and they’ll all have a fair chance to win the job this summer.

“Everyone seems to think we have major issues there,” Ryan said at the NFL meetings. “I don’t think the situation is what people think it is. I think we’re going to be just fine.”

But fueling the speculation that New York perhaps isn’t completely sold on the trio is the fact that the Jets, who have the 17th overall pick next month, scheduled workouts with Kansas State’s Josh Freeman and Southern California’s Mark Sanchez.

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Comments » 40

Vol_4_Life writes:

Doesnt really sound like a 'great shot' then does it...

Madkels writes:

Good luck and stay off the 'roids!

1manningfan writes:

in response to Plasticman:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Dude i totally agree, man i missed him and cut last season.

givehim6 writes:

EA need to shine while playing QB during pre-season play.

andy112382#209793 writes:

Good luck to you, Erik. Make us Vol fans proud!

baldfan writes:

in response to Plasticman:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Never thought I would say that. But I agree. Get em eric !

GahLee writes:

Good luck to him, but he has a snowballs chance in hell of winning the starting job...utfan, hilarious...he has the height, if that is his only outstanding quality he is in trouble...but seriously good luck to him, hope he wins.

Vol_in_Atl writes:

NFL starter? No way!...Gr8 guy at Tennessee, gave his all, but was mediocre at best...NFL: career clipboard carrier...

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

y'all remember when Brett began his career with the Falcons?? they cut him loose. Erik might be like that. He'sn accurate passer, so someonw may pick him up and give him a chance.

Cutler would not be good for New York. He's more a Falcon or Green Bay type.

utvol12345 writes:

I think he can eventually be a decent starter. The Jets did give the Titans their first loss of the year with quick, 3 step drop passes, which Ainge excelled at UT. I do understand that Brett Favre was the QB, but the system may work in Ainge's favor.

alfrizzle097 writes:

Ainge has the potential. I'm not sure he quite has IT, but he can do it if anyone from UT can. He has more potential than Casey Clausen did because he can make any throw when he is on. Clausen only had the fade....

jpmoney writes:

in response to TCHDWN10C:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

TCHDWN I totally agree with you. He did nothing but win and he gets no love. He was my favorite QB while I was at UT.

nbt44 writes:

Cmon Jets...Ainge was great here at UT. He overthrew the ball alot and more often than not, panicked under pressure.

Give Ainge a shot Jets and he will do the same for you.

salute_to_the_hill writes:

Go get em Erik!!!!

Coach_Joe writes:

It's hard for a dink and dunk passer to become a starter in the NFL. If that's what someone wants then he'll be a great starting QB. He definitely has a quick release.

straightshooter writes:

Doubt Eric will ever be an NFL starter. Has a big heart, will give him that, but those extra special talents an NFL QB must have, very strong arm, split second decision making in reading D's, agile with the feet, just don't see him having it. But good luck, stranger things have happened!

aurora0317 writes:

in response to Florrible:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

it happened back in November... yes it was steroids... he was already injured and not playing anyways

http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/27846840/

aurora0317 writes:

in response to TCHDWN10C:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Manning didn't win the amount of games Clausen did because he didn't have the O-line that Clausen had. If Manning had all day to sit in the pocket like Clausen, he would have won many more games.

aurora0317 writes:

in response to Formerly_Kiff_World_Order:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Best I can find of him is that he was unselected in the NFL Draft, went to the CFL, and was assigned to the Central Valley Coyotes but refused to report... who knows from there...

aurora0317 writes:

in response to aurora0317:

Best I can find of him is that he was unselected in the NFL Draft, went to the CFL, and was assigned to the Central Valley Coyotes but refused to report... who knows from there...

Here's the AFL site when he refused to report...

http://www.af2.com/ViewArticle.dbml?S...

cmoore7 writes:

I miss Erik Ainge and his 31 TD passes.

shoalcreekvol writes:

Rex Ryan sounds like Lane Kiffin - both are adamant that they are better off in the QB situation than people think they are, but both also have their eye to that next big guy at that position.

TheVolMan writes:

in response to TCHDWN10C:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Bingo. CC was also the greatest clutch Vol QB I've seen in the past 40 years. If I needed a UT QB to lead a game-winning drive, I'd pick Casey over Peyton. Casey had the knack to move the chains--think the Bama 5OT game. Peyton has a great arm is a Hall-of-famer but when the play breaks down he couldn't improvise like Clausen.

Casey would have been appreciated if he had an aw-shucks southern access like a Joey Matthews (who by the way should have NEVER started a game at UT).

robvols#366273 writes:

-I am a UT Alum living right outside NYC and follow the Jets (and I am from this area orginally). While Erik may think he has a shot (and I'd love to see him start) and I wish him nothing but the best of luck, all the talk up here is about the other two Jet QB's. You hardly ever hear his name mentioned in the same sentence as them.

drum45 writes:

Good Luck Erik!

GoVol writes:

His NFL career will last much longer if he stays 2nd or 3rd string.....especially as injury prone as he is.

Wish him the best!

TDTN writes:

in response to TCHDWN10C:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Amen to that. Clausen was a warrior on the field and in the college ranks that will win more games that talent alone.

Ironcity writes:

in response to Timed_vol:

y'all remember when Brett began his career with the Falcons?? they cut him loose. Erik might be like that. He'sn accurate passer, so someonw may pick him up and give him a chance.

Cutler would not be good for New York. He's more a Falcon or Green Bay type.

Falcons got a first round pick for him they didn't cut him loose. Brett liked to party a little to much for the Falcons back then. Truly, I liked Ainge and I wish Ainge the best, but I would be surprised if he even makes the Jets much less starts.

shipperman#280095 writes:

in response to nbt44:

Cmon Jets...Ainge was great here at UT. He overthrew the ball alot and more often than not, panicked under pressure.

Give Ainge a shot Jets and he will do the same for you.

LOL...How true my friend

VOLS_R_BEST_DEAL_WITH_IT writes:

Good for Eric im happy about hearing any Volunteer doing well in the NFL. Once a volunteer always a volunteer
VOLS>GatorS

cmoore7 writes:

SEC Championship Game vs. LSU Debacle Part II happened because of a "playing to not lose" mindset of play-calling, not because of Ainge's skillset. You just don't throw screens/swing passes inside your own 5 yard line, especially in a game of that magnitude. Hopefully, the "playing to not lose" strategy left with the old regime, and the new regime will play to win, or even better, to dominate.

RoyaltyVol writes:

Well, there goes the Jets season! Can you say first draft pick in 2010?

Alwaysavol writes:

in response to TheVolMan:

Bingo. CC was also the greatest clutch Vol QB I've seen in the past 40 years. If I needed a UT QB to lead a game-winning drive, I'd pick Casey over Peyton. Casey had the knack to move the chains--think the Bama 5OT game. Peyton has a great arm is a Hall-of-famer but when the play breaks down he couldn't improvise like Clausen.

Casey would have been appreciated if he had an aw-shucks southern access like a Joey Matthews (who by the way should have NEVER started a game at UT).

I agree that Clausen was very good in the clutch, but over the last 40 years, I'd have to go with Andy Kelly as the greatest clutch Vol QB. We were never out of a game with Kelly as the QB.

Also, Manning wasn't so bad in the improv department himself. The play against Georgia when he was stuffed at the 1-yard line, rolled out and threw a TD pass is evidence enough of that.

I'm not hating on Clausen...I always liked him and thought he didn't get a fair shake from a lot of Vol fans.

MattDillon writes:

Ainge owes a lot to Coach Cutcliff!

memphis_vol_fan writes:

in response to PacosBill:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

So 31 touchdown passes and 3500 yards in one season is your definition of mediocre?

GeneralNeylandsReturn writes:

in response to jpmoney:

TCHDWN I totally agree with you. He did nothing but win and he gets no love. He was my favorite QB while I was at UT.

Casey was my favorite too, spit and gut, a real winner, but he really never had NFL potential.

Ainge does, he's fragile, but he does.

My guess is it will end up being with his second team though, not the Jets...who would want that scrutiny anyway. NY media and fans makes UT's look civilized...lol

GeneralNeylandsReturn writes:

in response to LazhilUT:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Wow!

Why didn't you walk on Laz? Maybe we would have gone to that Rose Bowl after all...

OLROCKYTOP writes:

YOU DON'T EVER KNOW, FOR EVERY AKILI SMITH IN THE FIRST ROUND THERE IS A MARC BULGER IN THE SIXTH ROUND. IT ALL MATTERS ON HOW WELL THEY ARE COACHED IN THE PROS AND THE SYSTEM THEY ARE PUT INTO.

RoadTrip writes:

Ainge is suffering delusions of grandeur. I doubt many NFL HCs will let him throw the ball off his back foot while moving backward like CPF did. Maybe the roids gave him the rage and he will start attacking defenses like Peyton.

Not.

ncvol17 writes:

If he can emulate Pat Ryan and sit on the team for years building a NFL retirement and earning 300K + each year he will never have to work a day in his life....sounds like a good deal to a working stiff like me in this economy...go Ainge keep a roster spot and earn more $$$ than anyone on these blogs.

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