FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Don’t give up on Christian Hackenberg, Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan said.
Hackenberg, the 2016 second-round draft pick, has not played in an NFL game. Yet even though he was active for only four games in 2017, the Jets still believe in him.
“The book on Christian is not closed,” the GM said Tuesday. “He’s only 22 years old. He’s made progress. He’s made developments, this is going to be a good offseason for him. We’re kind of excited to see how he does with a second year in this system [West Coast offense], and he’s going to have an opportunity in training camp to go out and play again. And we’ll see how he develops.”
Todd Bowles had hinted that Hackenberg might play in Sunday’s regular-season finale at New England. Hackenberg received some first-team reps last week, but Bryce Petty played the entire game. Bowles said he had no intention of playing Hackenberg against the Patriots and that people shouldn’t have read into how practice snaps were distributed.
“Todd has always had the ability to determine who plays, and when the players are ready, he’ll play them,” Maccagnan said. “From that standpoint, I support Todd in his decision on who to play. It’s like anything else, everybody wants to see players play, but again I trust Todd to make those determinations when those guys are ready to play and to put them in a position to be successful.”
Maccagnan said he is encouraged by Hackenberg, whose inactivity reached a historic level. Since 1960, only one other quarterback drafted in the second round didn’t play in his first two NFL seasons: Gene Bradley, who was picked by Buffalo in 1980.
“With any player they develop at different paces, and I think we’ll see how they develop and progress,” Maccagnan said. “The other part of it, quite frankly, I think our focus is try to make every position as competitive as possible so our team can be competitive. Those are things that will work themselves out over time.”