FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — For Bryce Petty, the waiting is the hardest part. He’d like to make his first NFL start on Sunday against the Rams, but the Jets have to first find out about the status of No. 1 quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick’s sprained left knee.
“Anxious probably isn’t the right word,” Petty said. “It’s exciting for anybody to be in this position and I don’t take it for granted.”
Some Jets fans would prefer to see Petty start even if Fitzpatrick is 100 percent healthy. But coach Todd Bowles made it clear on Wednesday that Fitzpatrick will play if he can practice this week with a brace on the knee he injured in last Sunday’s loss to the Dolphins.
“I’m definitely optimistic that I’ll be able to go out there and play,” Fitzpatrick said. “I’m going to do everything I can from now until then to make sure that that happens.”
Bowles, though, said he wants to see more from Fitzpatrick before he’s convinced he’ll be ready to go.
“He threw the ball around,” Bowles said. “He wasn’t running around as much, so we’ve got to get a better gauge. He’s still getting treatment, so he’s getting better. We’ve just got to see how much he can tolerate. As of this time we’re not (sure). We’ll see how he feels tomorrow and Friday, get a better gauge, see how many reps, how much running around he can do.”
Fitzpatrick said the knee doesn’t feel better since Sunday, when he had to leave the field for four snaps in the third quarter before returning.
“It’s a knee sprain,” he said. “It’s not something I’m happy is there or feels great, but I think I’ll be OK. Now it’s just getting out there and getting comfortable. I don’t have any past experience with (the brace), so getting comfortable is probably the biggest thing.”
Petty, a second-year pro, came in for Fitzpatrick and threw his first NFL passes, a pair of completions for 19 yards.
Bowles has said he’s not ready to give up on the season and go with an untested quarterback with the Jets at 3-6. But he also said he thinks Petty will be ready if he has to start.
“I think he’s capable,” Bowles said. “It’s just a matter of Ryan’s ahead of him right now. As Bryce gets more reps we’re more comfortable with him.”
Said Petty: “All I try to do each and every day is try to be the best teammate that I can and help this team in whatever way they need, whether it’s getting first-team reps, backup, third-string. I don’t forget the time that I was kind of on the bubble of whether or not I was going to make this team.”
Fitzpatrick’s time as starter may be coming to an end anyway if the Jets keep losing. The veteran has the NFL’s worst quarterback rating at 67.6 and has thrown eight touchdowns and 13 interceptions. And now his knee hurts. It’s part of the general malaise around the Jets these days.
“This game is not easy,” Fitzpatrick said. “When you’re winning, everything is easy and everybody’s happy and having fun. When you’re losing, everybody’s miserable.”