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Bryce Petty is Jets' backup plan at quarterback for Week 1 at least

New York Jets quarterback Bryce Petty steps into

New York Jets quarterback Bryce Petty steps into the pocket to throw in the second half on Friday, Aug. 21, 2015 at MetLife Stadium. Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - As backup quarterbacks from Texas go, Bryce Petty will be the significantly less famous one Sunday when the Jets host the Browns.

Then again, few NFL No. 2s have more name recognition than Johnny Manziel.

But if anything happens to Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Jets' backup suddenly will be thrust into a Manziel-like spotlight, ready or not. Is he ready?

"I do feel confident in my ability," Petty said after practice Friday, "and I'm a firm believer in the fact that God doesn't give you anything you can't handle."

The Jets had enough confidence in Petty, a rookie fourth-round pick out of Baylor, to release the more experienced Matt Flynn and Josh Johnson, even with Geno Smith still recovering from a broken jaw.

They also lacked better alternatives for Week 1. The Jets will have more flexibility to add a veteran for insurance next week, at which point they would not be obligated to pay the new man a full year's salary if they later let him go. (Coach Todd Bowles said Smith might be able to return to full team practices in a week or two.)

For now, Petty is the only Plan B. He said his improvement since the spring has been "night and day." But he labeled himself a perfectionist whose down moments in preseason were a source of frustration.

He had an 83.5 passer rating in the preseason, completing 27 of 45 passes for 260 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. At the very least, he said, that showed him he belongs.

"Getting here is one thing, but believing that you can be here is another thing," he said. "When you walk into a locker room and you've seen guys you've watched the last four or five years, it can be overwhelming at times. I think that's the biggest thing for rookies to understand is to have the confidence to know that you can play with these guys.''

Keeping him over Flynn and Johnson, he said, indicated the coaches believe he is "at least in the direction they want me to be in."

He also joked: "I left an envelope with a lot of money in coach Bowles' office. I guess he got it."

In the bigger picture for the Jets, it is more important that Petty develop into a potential starter than that he survive Week 1 of 2015. But it all is part of the process. "It's kind of a snowball effect," he said. "It's just sometimes it's a slow snowball as opposed to one rolling downhill. But at any rate, it's still moving."

Notes & quotes: The Jets enter Week 1 in enviable health, other than Geno Smith. WR Devin Smith (ribs) is listed as probable but is unlikely to play . . . Bowles said he heard earlier this week from Bill Parcells, who told him to "coach the game the way I want to coach." . . . Bowles insisted he is not overly emotional about his first game as an NFL head coach. "The only way to get me excited is to bring Gladys Knight in here," said the coach, a fan of the singer. . . . Did the Jets do anything special to prepare for the possibility of Manziel playing?"Obviously, he brings a different element to the game, but if he gets in the game, we'll deal with that when we cross it," Bowles said . . . How does LB Calvin Pace feel about being the oldest player on the roster? "I don't feel 34; I really don't," he said. "I'm amongst a bunch of guys born in the '90s, so I have to act a little younger than I am. But I feel good, man. I feel like, I'm not going to say 20. I feel like I'm 29."

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