FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — If the Jets need him, Christian Hackenberg said he’ll be ready.
The rookie quarterback has yet to suit up in a regular-season game, but he’s pumped about his progress. And he believes he’ll be prepared to play on Sunday against the Bills if the coaches ask him.
“We’ve been doing a good job of preparing,” said Hackenberg, who will serve as the No. 2 quarterback behind starter-turned-backup-turned-starter again Ryan Fitzpatrick. It’ll be the first time the rookie has been on the active roster all season.
“I’ve had plenty of time to learn so I feel like I have a good grasp of the offense and those types of things. This week’s been great getting reps. So I think I’m ready whenever I need to be called, and if that happens, I know I’ve prepared to the best of my ability.”
The front office made this a redshirt season for the former Penn State signal-caller, whose mechanics and accuracy were questioned during the draft process. And so far, they’ve succeeded in keeping the rookie safe on the sideline and far away from the unforgiving speed of NFL action. But the Jets (4-11) are now down to two healthy quarterbacks after placing former starter Bryce Petty (torn labrum) on injured reserve this week.
Coach Todd Bowles said on Tuesday that he doesn’t anticipate playing Hackenberg unless Fitzpatrick gets hurt or the “game gets out of hand.”
Asked if he was disappointed he didn’t get the start, Hackenberg said, “I think that’s kind of something that’s out of my realm. What I have control over is coming in and preparing and learning and practicing and doing everything right from that standpoint. So that was kind of the focus for me the whole year, this week, last week, so that hasn’t really changed.”
Because the rookie has yet to step on the field in a meaningful game, fans have no idea if Hackenberg has made strides during his redshirt season. But the 21-year-old signal-caller is confident he has.
“I feel good,” Hackenberg said. “I think there’s a lot of different ways to define progress, especially at this leveI . . . I think I’ve grown in a lot of ways, learned a lot and was able to sit back and observe and kind of focus on some little things out at practice each week and that’s been good.”