FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — The Jets tried to make Wednesday’s practice as normal as possible.
Josh McCown, the starting quarterback, is out for the season after undergoing surgery on Tuesday to repair a broken left hand.
His replacement is Bryce Petty, who will make his fifth career start Sunday at New Orleans. Petty worked with the first-team offense in practice and did extra throwing with the wide receivers to develop some chemistry.
It’s the first time this season somebody other than McCown will be the starting quarterback. And no matter how much the Jets said things were normal, the more it became apparent just how different things were.
Instead of McCown meeting a gaggle of reporters in the middle of the locker room, for his weekly Wednesday afternoon chat, Petty was doing all the talking. The game plan, which the Jets’ insist won’t be altered for Petty, was held with him as the leader of the meeting. As the week progresses, Petty and offensive coordinator John Morton will talk about the type of throws he likes to make in certain situations within the framework of the West Coast offense.
While McCown isn’t around, recovering from surgery, it’s the things he taught his backup that hopefully will stick this week during practices and the games.
“Just to be me,” Petty said of the advice he received from McCown. “It’s not about trying to replace Josh or be Josh. It’s to be Bryce and find little successes. Whether that’s how I approach the game in the game, just smiling is important. Understand it’s a blessing to be here.”
Petty doesn’t think he relaxed and enjoyed himself in the 23-0 loss to Denver. “I don’t know if I smiled too much. I wanted to bring us back, just smile and have fun.”
McCown left the Denver game twice because of injuries with Petty taking over. Petty finished the game completing just 2 of 9 passes for 14 yards.
On Sunday, he will get a 60-minute game to prove he’s much better than what people saw. If not, Todd Bowles is unlikely to bench the third-year quarterback from Baylor for second-year quarterback Christian Hackenberg. Bowles said the only way Petty sits is if he is injured. Bowles also said the Jets won’t play Hackenberg just to play him because he’s never been in an NFL game.
“We got people at every position that want to play,” Bowles said. “We’re not jumping people over people just to play considering anything. Bryce is our starter.”
Bowles also said he’s comfortable using Hackenberg in a game if needed. Previously, Hackenberg, a 2016 second-round pick, was active for only the first game of the season.
“I’m ready as I’ve ever been,” Hackenberg said. “Just trying to get better that’s just the theme, every day come in, come to work. When you get the opportunities, take full advantage of it. Let it fly, have fun and that’s how I approached it.”
However, the spotlight is on Petty and he has the confidence of the locker room.
“It’s the next man up,” wide receiver Jermaine Kearse said. “We all got to do our own job. We can’t go into this game worrying about somebody else, that’s when you slip up. I trust Bryce. I trust he’s preparing and he comes in here finding ways to get better. I trust he’s going to compete.”