Posted: 1:48 pm Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Former Dolphins QB Chad Pennington reportedly tears his ACL 

By Post Staff

Chad Pennington’s comeback from a fourth shoulder surgery has reportedly hit a major obstacle, but not because of anything related to his shoulder.

Chad Pennington wants to come back after a fourth shoulder surgery, but a torn ACL might end his comeback / Post staff

Chad Pennington wants to come back after a fourth shoulder surgery, but a torn ACL might end his comeback / Post staff

ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported Thursday afternoon that Pennington, 34, will undergo surgery on April 7 after tearing an anterior cruciate ligament in one of his knees while playing pickup basketball. Pennington has not yet returned a message seeking comment.

Pennington, a pending free agent who has spent his last three years with the Dolphins, has been rehabilitating his right shoulder in South Florida following surgery on Feb. 1 with Dr. James Andrews. While he has said that he wants to play in 2011, he said last month that he wanted to begin throwing in April to see if his shoulder would hold up.

“I think April or May will be the telltale sign,” he said.

Instead, Pennington is reportedly faced with another surgery and long rehabilitation. Football players generally take 6-9 months to recover from ACL surgery.

This is nothing new for Pennington, of course. A 2000 first-round pick by the Jets, Pennington has had surgery to repair his right shoulder four times in his career. He twice has won the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year award, with the Jets in 2006 and with the Dolphins in 2008, when he signed with the team in training camp and led Miami to an 11-5 record an an AFC East title.

Pennington’s 2009 season ended in the third game against San Diego, and his 2010 season ended after two plays in the Week 9 game against Tennessee. Pennington, tabbed as the starter earlier in the week to replace Chad Henne, suffered a shoulder dislocation and torn capsule after being hit on his first play from scrimmage. He stayed in for one more play — a short pass to Brian Hartline, which went for 19 yards — but could not continue and was placed on Injured Reserve after the game.

Pennington has expressed a desire to be healthy enough in his post-football career to lead a normal life — play golf, go fishing, etc. — and to be able to play with and coach his kids. But he said in January that he’s not ready to give up football just yet.

“I’m going to make a run at it, and the reason I am is that I still have that fire inside,” Pennington said. “I have to go out and see if my shoulder can respond. If it doesn’t respond, I can live with that. But if it does, or it could have responded and I didn’t give it a chance, I don’t think I could live with that.”

Despite his injury history, the Dolphins hadn’t ruled out bringing him back for the 2011 season to compete with Henne for the starting quarterback job. Mortensen and Sports Illustrated’s Peter King reported that a few other teams were also considering signing Pennington to serve as a bridge to a young quarterback.

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