FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) The New York Jets wrapped up training camp and their quarterback situation appears to be the same as it did a month ago.
Well, sort of.
Josh McCown remains the front-runner to start, Christian Hackenberg made some progress and Bryce Petty is third on the depth chart. But the past week or so left several questions about what exactly is going on in the minds of coach Todd Bowles and his staff.
”I’ll see how they play Saturday night,” Bowles said of the preseason game against the Giants, ”and I’ll make (a decision) after that.”
McCown has been the assumed starter since he signed a one-year, $6 million deal in the offseason. He got the bulk of the snaps at the position throughout the offseason and early in training camp.
But the 38-year-old veteran has played just one series in the preseason, a touchdown drive in the opener against Tennessee.
Since then, Hackenberg and Petty have gotten the bulk of the work in practices – leaving McCown to go through mental reps on the side. McCown took no snaps with the starting offense in team drills on Thursday, the last practice before Saturday night’s game.
”I trust that Coach Bowles has a vision for this team and a plan for how he’s evaluating everything,” McCown said. ”And I support that. I’ll take the reps when I get them and go from there.”
McCown acknowledged that he and the other quarterbacks were made aware of how the practice week would go, and he wouldn’t rule out playing this weekend despite the lack of practice snaps. Bowles, however, has not shared that plan with reporters, opting to remain evasive when asked about the quarterback situation.
He previously said he would likely reveal his starter for the season next Monday, but on Thursday said that it could happen on ”Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday.”
The coach has also not revealed who will start against the Giants, which is the team’s third preseason game – typically when squads play their starters at least through the first half as a final warmup before the regular season.
”We’ll discuss the quarterbacks tonight,” said Bowles, who repeated a version of that response several times over the past few days.
Bowles did say that the number of snaps taken by each quarterback this week wouldn’t have any bearing on who would play Saturday.
”Nope,” Bowles said while shaking his head. ”None.”
Last week, Hackenberg surprisingly got the start at Detroit a few days after Bowles said he expected McCown to play because he still needed some work. Instead, McCown never left the sideline.
”He’s gotten a lot of work in practice,” Bowles said, ”he had a good drive in his first game and I wanted to see the other two guys play.”
Bowles added that reporters don’t see what the team works on in morning walkthroughs, so they aren’t privy to everything that goes on behind the scenes.
”Obviously, as a competitor, you like being out there,” McCown said. ”It’s always fun to get the work, but I also understand what we’re trying to do as a team and the evaluations our team is making, so I support that.”
The Jets are essentially using this time as an opportunity to see whether Hackenberg, a second-rounder out of Penn State last year, and/or Petty, a fourth-rounder from Baylor in 2015, can develop into starters for the franchise.
Hackenberg came in as a project and sat out the entire regular season. He has been markedly improved from a year ago and has shown promising glimpses. But against the Lions last week, Hackenberg fell flat with a poor performance that was exacerbated by poor protection up front. He has also failed to put up any points in the preseason.
”As you progress and as you grow, so many people think it’s just going to be a switch,” Hackenberg said, snapping his fingers. ”There’s a lot of factors that go into it and you just have to take it day by day and continue to progress. There’s going to be ups and downs – it’s inevitable.”
Petty was mostly solid in his time on the field against the Lions, but is generally considered the odd-man out in the Jets’ three-man QB competition. He started four games last season for New York, and believes he can still fill that role for the Jets.
”Yeah, every day that I come in here, it’s competing to be the starter,” he said. ”You just wait until your number’s called and when it’s called, you go attack those opportunities that you get. You don’t worry about anything else.”
NOTES: Bowles said LB Lorenzo Mauldin (back) and TEs Jordan Leggett (sprained foot) and Jason Vander Laan (sprained shoulder) have been ruled out against the Giants. CB Morris Claiborne has sat out this week with a sore shoulder and will likely be a game-time decision. RB Matt Forte has practiced all week after being sidelined for three weeks by a hamstring injury. Bowles said the Jets will see how Forte feels leading into the game.
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