Ever since Chad Pennington injured his right rotator cuff for a second time, the Jets have painted an optimistic picture about his future. But offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger expressed hesitancy Tuesday on the return of the franchise quarterback for the start of 2006, saying he was worried about Pennington because of the severity of the injury. Pennington injured his rotator cuff in September, less than a year after tearing it for the first time. "They say he's ahead of where he was last year," Heimerdinger said. "Now how much that is -- I am hesitant because two rotator cuffs is, and a guy who makes his living throwing the ball, I'm hesitant to say he's way ahead. We've got to be careful with it. "We don't need to push him because of the situation we're in. We need for him to be healthy and be confident in what he's doing throwing-wise, arm strength-wise, the whole bit." Heimerdinger said he wasn't sure how much Pennington would be able to take part in mini-camps or offseason training activities. Coach Herman Edwards was unavailable for comment because he was in Tampa, Fla., for the funeral of Tony Dungy's son. When Pennington got hurt against Jacksonville, it became clear the Jets would be in the market for another quarterback come this offseason. But Edwards and Pennington have continually said they were optimistic about his return. Pennington said after his surgery in October that he was grateful for having a few extra months to rehab his shoulder. Last season, Pennington injured his rotator cuff during the season but played through it and had surgery in February.