FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — It matters only if Ryan Fitzpatrick is injured Sunday, but coach Todd Bowles on Friday refused to reveal his choice for backup quarterback against the winless Browns.
Either second-year man Bryce Petty or rookie Christian Hackenberg will back up Fitzpatrick, who returns to the starting job after being benched last week for Geno Smith, who suffered a season-ending ACL injury.
Neither Petty nor Hackenberg has thrown a regular-season pass. Petty missed a month in the preseason with an injured shoulder but said he is “100 percent healthy” now.
Still, Bowles didn’t want to say which man would be the backup because he hadn’t told his assistant coaches yet.
“I’m not revealing that right now,” he said before growing testy when reporters tried a few end-arounds to get him to let out the big secret.
“No offense,” Bowles said, “but if I’m not going to tell you who it is, why are we having this discussion? It’s really a waste of time. I’m not going to tell you anything. It’s not open for discussion, guys.”
Both Petty and Hackenberg have taken snaps with the first-team offense this week. Hackenberg politely declined an interview request. Petty said he hadn’t been told Bowles’ decision but said he’s ready if called upon.
“I feel good,” he said. “I’m healthy, and this week we’re just kind of knocking dust off. I’ve been involved, as far as writing things down and going over film and being in the film room with Ryan, so that part hasn’t changed. Now that I get to take reps, it’s better for me.”
The Jets (2-5) have three winnable games in a row against the Browns, Dolphins and Rams, starting with Sunday’s contest in Cleveland. If they stumble and the season is truly lost, Bowles could look at one or both of his young quarterbacks as more than just a backup. But that’s a discussion for another day.
“I try not to deal with that stuff,” Petty said. “It’s hypothetical. I think what I have is reality, and that’s what I base everything I do off of. What that means is for me to come in here and be the best teammate I can be, [be] positive, and try to be consistent. The same guy every day. So for me, the whole game plan is to be a better quarterback than I was yesterday, and wherever that leads, that leads.”
Notes & quotes: The Browns announced that Josh McCown will be their starting quarterback Sunday . . . The Jets’ extensive injury report will require some game-time decisions. Listed as doubtful: center Nick Mangold (ankle), right tackle Brent Qvale (neck) and cornerback Buster Skrine (knee). Listed as questionable: left tackle Ryan Clady (shoulder) and defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (ankle). Linebackers Darron Lee (ankle) and Bruce Carter (quadriceps) are out . . . Ravens linebacker Za’Darius Smith was fined $18,231 for a roughing penalty against Fitzpatrick last Sunday.