FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — The New York Jets have waived backup quarterback Kevin O’Connell, likely clearing the way for Kellen Clemens to make the team.

O’Connell was acquired last September from Detroit in a trade. He was competing with Clemens for the No. 3 job behind starter Mark Sanchez and backup Mark Brunell. Clemens outplayed O’Connell in the preseason, and coach Rex Ryan said Monday that Clemens had a good chance of making the opening day roster.

“I would say he’s got a pretty strong chance of making this team,” coach Rex Ryan said.

“Score!” Clemens said, tongue in cheek. “That’s a heck of a lot better than it could have been.”

The move Tuesday puts the Jets at 74 players — one below the limit teams need to reach by the end of the day.

O’Connell was a third-round draft pick by New England out of San Diego State in 2008. He was cut last offseason and claimed off waivers by Detroit.

Kellen Clemens has gone from the future of the franchise to trade bait – or being cut by Saturday’s 53-man roster deadline – in just a few seasons. The second-round pick out of Oregon in 2006 came to the Jets with high expectations, but appeared on his way out this summer after the team signed Brunell.

Clemens is due to make $1.1 million this season, a high price tag for a No. 3 quarterback.

“I don’t know all the games they play,” Clemens said. “I take Rex’s word. He’s always said he’s a man of his word and he’s going to tell you how it is. So, when he says, ‘Yeah, I think he has a pretty good chance,’ I feel like I have a pretty good chance. He certainly didn’t say that I was a lock.”

Clemens addressed the media when the team reported for camp on Aug. 1 in Cortland, N.Y., and said he expected to compete with Brunell for the backup job. A few hours later, Ryan shot that down, saying Brunell was the No. 2 guy.

“That was a situation where Rex and I had to visit behind closed doors,” Clemens said, “and just kind of try to get a better understanding because I was under a different impression coming in.”

Clemens has since put on a positive front, even amid rumors he could be traded or cut. He’s 11 for 16 for 116 yards in two preseason games; he didn’t play against Washington last week. Clemens is expected to get lots of time in the preseason finale at Philadelphia on Thursday night.

“Statistically, I haven’t blown anything away,” he said. “My percentage is good, yards aren’t real high (and) I haven’t thrown a touchdown, but how I’ve graded out, it’s been my best preseason ever.”

So, does he think he has been given a fair shake this summer?

“To be the No. 3?” Clemens asked with a smile. “Yes.”

Clemens has developed a good relationship with Brunell – “I can’t stand him. No, he’s a great guy.” – and the two talk about hunting more than football. He believes he can still be an NFL starter, but also wants to remain with the Jets, wherever that may be on the depth chart.

“The Jets have an awesome chance to win the Super Bowl this year and I’m excited about the opportunity to be a part of it,” he said. “I hope that I’m here and we’ll just move forward with whatever the results are come cut day.”

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

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