Jets coach Todd Bowles said on a Tuesday conference call that Geno Smith will sit out the preseason finale — a strong indication that he’s locked up the No. 2 quarterback job for the regular season.
Instead, it’ll “possibly” be backup quarterbacks Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg splitting time Thursday night against the Eagles.
Bowles isn’t sure whether they’ll each play a full half, “but I’ll try to even it out as best I can,” he said.
The news came a day after the coach told reporters that he might consider playing all three quarterbacks in Philly. But on Tuesday’s conference call, Bowles said he made the decision to sit Smith “probably after” Saturday’s preseason game against the Giants.
“I’d like to see more of the other two guys,” he said. “Playing Geno would hinder that chance, so I wanted to see the other two guys play a full amount of time. This should be a perfect opportunity to do it.”
Barring a trade (See: the Vikings), it appears Smith is primed to be Ryan Fitzpatrick’s backup for the foreseeable future.
The organization always has maintained it’s open to keeping four quarterbacks, a point Bowles reiterated on the call. “All four are good football players,” he said. “We can keep all four. It’s just a matter of battling with the other positions, so that’s still up for grabs. And we’ll have to wait until after this game to see how that plays out.”
The Jets have until 4 p.m. Saturday to slash their roster from 75 to 53 players. If they choose not to keep four quarterbacks, Petty could be the odd man out. The former fourth-round pick has no regular-season game experience (2015 essentially was a red-shirt season for him), plus the Jets drafted Hackenberg in the second round a year after selecting Petty.
Though Bowles said “you’d like to” have roster cuts finished by Friday, that’s not always the case. “I’m not going to sit here and say we’ll get them all done on Friday.” he said. “There may be some on Saturday.”
Hackenberg made his preseason debut three days ago against the Giants, completing 6 of 16 passes for 105 yards. He capped an impressive first drive with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Robby Anderson, but he also threw an interception on a deflected pass with 2:34 to go in a 21-20 Giants win.
As for what he hopes to see from Hackenberg vs. the Eagles, Bowles said: “Just get some comfort level and command the offense and make less mistakes than he made the week before.”
Petty has seen action in all three preseason games, completing 28 of 50 passes for 394 yards, two touchdowns with one interception.
Notes & quotes: The Jets waived injured safety Dion Bailey (elbow), running back Romar Morris (shoulder) and defensive lineman Jake Ceresna (unknown injury) to get the roster down to 75 . . . .Cornerback Dexter McDougle (hamstring) is “still banged up” and unlikely to play Thursday, Bowles said. Receiver Kenbrell Thompkins (groin) will be a pregame decision, as will cornerback Dee Milliner (sore hamstring). If able, linebacker Bruce Carter (shoulder) will play. So will “all the young guys” like first-round linebacker Darron Lee . . . Asked if the Jets potentially could keep rookie receivers Jalin Marshall, Robby Anderson and Charone Peake, Bowles said: “I mean it’s possible. They’ve all had their flashes in games. It’s possible.”