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As Geno Smith replaces Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bryce Petty focuses on his own progress

New York Jets quarterback Bryce Petty before a

New York Jets quarterback Bryce Petty before a game against the Seattle Seahawks at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Oct. 2, 2016. Photo Credit: Lee S. Weissman

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — The People’s Choice is rested and ready when called upon, but Bryce Petty insisted Friday that in the meantime he has no intention of lobbying for a promotion from Jets coach Todd Bowles.

“I’m really self-conscious about how I word things, because I don’t want to sound selfish at all,” the third-string quarterback told Newsday, two days after those ahead of him in line, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Geno Smith, traded places.

“So my game plan hasn’t changed at all. It’s to continue work like I am the starter. That was the same with Fitz [starting], same last year, this year, and just focus on today and try to be the best backup I can be and become the starter whenever that opportunity comes.”

Many fans would like that opportunity to come sooner than later, on the theory they have seen enough of Fitzpatrick and Smith, both of whom seem like long shots to be on the Jets’ 2017 roster.

At least Petty, a second-year man out of Baylor, has possibilities, and is readier than rookie Christian Hackenberg. So why not see what he can do?

No matter that he was a mere fourth-round draft pick. So was the Cowboys’ current rookie sensation, Dak Prescott. You never know until you try, right?

The problem is that until last week Petty had not practiced since bruising his throwing shoulder in the final game of a preseason in which he was 32-for-56 for 481 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.

So while he pronounced his current physical state “awesome, awesome, 100 percent,” he naturally needed work to get back into rhythm.

“I think six weeks of not throwing to receivers, about three weeks of not throwing at all, that’s going to take some time,” he said. “I already feel a lot better as far as timing with guys, timing with my footwork and all that kind of stuff, just getting back into the quarterback thing. All that feels good, and a lot crisper than I thought I would be, honestly.”

Petty is aware some fans are clamoring for him, but he is realistic about how fleeting such sentiments can be. So he tries to filter that out and focus on supporting the starter and preparing himself.

He’s getting there.

“Just the progress that I’ve had from Year One to Year Two and the first spring to second spring and all that stuff, it’s been on a gradual incline, which is good,” he said. “Definitely I’ve had those moments where it’s, ‘You know what, I can play with these guys, I can be here,’ which is reassuring, I guess.

“I had a good preseason where it wasn’t like a deer-in-the-headlight look the way I felt a couple of games last year. So it’s just a matter of building off that confidence, and yeah, I can do it, for sure.”

Notes and quotes: LB Darren Lee (ankle), OT Brent Qvale (neck), TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (ankle) are out. DE Muhammad Wilkerson did not practice and is questionable. Wilkerson told Newsday on Thursday that his foot has been bothering him for a couple of weeks. Asked whether early in the season he might have pushed too hard to come back from a broken bone in the same leg, Bowles said, “As far as the doctors and the trainers and his rehab went, he was doing fine. They went through every test possible to get him on the field ready to play. We don’t play injured players. We don’t force injured players to play.” . . . WR Brandon Marshall and DE Sheldon Richardson downplayed a verbal altercation they had in the locker room during a loss to the Chiefs on Sept. 25. “It’s two leaders in this locker room trying to figure out a way to win,” Marshall said. “It definitely gets testy when you’re in a losing locker room.” Marshall said keeping emotions in check on a struggling team is a challenge. “You put so much into it and you have so many alpha males in one room it can be hard to communicate at times when you’re fresh off of disappointment.” Said Richardson: “[That was] weeks ago, bro . . . That’s locker room business, or it’s supposed to be.”


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