Finally, a reprieve.
In what could very well be a season of bad news, the Jets caught a significant break Sunday when it was revealed that Bryce Petty, who had a spectacular second half Saturday night before tweaking his left knee, did not suffer a serious injury.
According to ESPN, Petty, who threw for three touchdowns in the Jets’ 32-31 loss to the Giants, suffered only a Grade 1 MCL sprain and hopes to play in Thursday night’s final preseason game against the Eagles.
Petty long has been considered the dark horse in a three-man race for starting quarterback, but on Saturday night, he showed flashes of the player who impressed so many at Baylor. He completed 15 of 18 passes for 250 yards, including an 85-yard touchdown to Bilal Powell.
Petty’s performance looked even better when juxtaposed against the struggles of Christian Hackenberg, who for the second game in a row failed to show signs that he can command an NFL offense.
But the good vibes seemed to evaporate with about two minutes left in the game. It was then that Petty, upon releasing the ball, tripped over tumbling Jets lineman Ben Braden and clutched his knee. Trainers tended to Petty and he walked off under his own power, but once on the sideline, he tested the knee and recoiled. After the game, he said it felt “loose.”
“It’s just not stable,” he said of the knee. “Keep your head up. There’s always a plan with everything. I know I’m [in] good hands on that . . . It’s one of those things, it’s really a bang-bang kind of deal. You throw it. You know, those guys are still coming around you. It’s kind of natural reaction” to loosen up as players fall around you.
Although this makes the Jets’ quarterback decision a little more complicated, it is extremely good news for the team. Despite throwing a late-game touchdown pass after relieving Petty, Hackenberg looked lost at times. He again held on to the ball too long and couldn’t compensate for a weak offensive line. He had two interceptions returned for touchdowns and did little to recommend himself as a good Week 1 option.
Josh McCown, 38, has played one series this preseason (which ended in a touchdown) and has had limited reps in practice — all in an effort to evaluate the younger talent.
Through all the noise, Petty has been quietly consistent (before Saturday, that is, when his performance was less than quiet). The 2015 fourth-rounder is 32-for-48 for 426 yards in three preseason games.
Asked if he had given thought to the starting quarterback job, Petty said it is “his decision,” referring to coach Todd Bowles.
“He’s going to make whatever decision is best for this football team. What you want to do is just make it as hard as possible, but at the end of the day, it’s about us growing as a group and us competing each and every day no matter who the starter is going to be.”