Now he’s being called upon to help the Jets recover from the loss of their top two signal-callers against a Baltimore Ravens team thirsting for its first win of the season.
Starter Chad Pennington and backup Jay Fiedler each suffered severe shoulder injuries in last Sunday’s 26-20 overtime loss to Jacksonville. Pennington is out for the season and Fielder is sidelined indefinitely.
Pennington, who underwent surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in February, had little on his throws before the injury, and an MRI exam Monday revealed another tear in the rotator cuff.
The desperate Jets signed 41-year-old quarterback Vinny Testaverde on Tuesday to back up the untested Bollinger. Testaverde, who played for Dallas last season after spending the previous six years in New York, could wind up as the Jets’ No. 1 quarterback, or enter Sunday’s game in relief if Bollinger struggles.
“Right now, Vinny is not starting, he is not running out of the tunnel in Baltimore being the starter,” Jets coach Herman Edwards said. “He is going to be standing next to me. Brooks is starting. From there, we will see.”
Testaverde, the top pick in the 1987 draft, is back with the team he led to the 1998 AFC championship game. He last started for the Jets in 2002, but was benched in the fifth game for Pennington.
“After I left here last year, I always thought it would be a one-day contract retiring as a Jet,” Testaverde said. “I’m excited, happy, nervous, anxious, all those feelings about playing for the Jets again.
“I was just sitting on the couch watching the games and becoming a fan again. Watching my childhood team I became a fan again, and to see that happen — I said, `I wish I could do something.’ I was in a position to do something. I hope things work out for the best.”
Off to an 0-2 start and coming off a bye week, the Ravens will be raring to put some heat on Bollinger, who has just nine snaps of NFL experience.
Baltimore’s vaunted defense has generated no interceptions, one fumble recovery and one sack while surrendering 49 points through two games.
“The sun comes up the next day,” Ravens nose tackle Maake Kemoeatu. “We’ll just keep fighting until the end of the season. We’re just going to go out and play football, that’s the bottom line.”
The bye week was a time to learn, not rest, for a supposed playoff contender that is looking up at Cincinnati (3-0) and Pittsburgh (2-1) in the AFC North. Coach Brian Billick usually gives his team most of the bye week off, but because it came so early in the schedule, two padded practices were held.
Baltimore has averaged 8.5 points, nine penalties and three turnovers per game, scoring a pair of meaningless fourth-quarter touchdowns in losses to the Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans, respectively.
Quarterback Kyle Boller didn’t make it into the fourth quarter of the first game, and will miss at least two more starts because of a hyperextended big right toe. Anthony Wright, who replaced Boller, has thrown three interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns, adding to the Ravens’ minus-5 turnover differential.
Baltimore’s rushing offense has also been neutralized by the early deficits the team has faced. The Ravens have called 34 run plays and passed the ball 104 times, suffering nine sacks in the process.
“We have to get better,” Ravens tight end Daniel Wilcox said. “Where the frustration comes from is from knowing you should have won a game. Right now, we’re just not playing like we can play. We’re a lot better than we’re producing.”