PHILADELPHIA — The shoulder sling and heavy wrap said everything Bryce Petty could not.
Thursday night’s preseason finale was his opportunity to prove he’s worthy of a roster spot, his last chance to show the Jets that they didn’t waste a fourth-round pick on him last year.
But in the aftermath of a meaningless 14-6 loss to the Eagles, Petty was forced to face the cameras with his right arm immobile while also confronting his uncertain future.
With minutes to go in the first quarter, the third-string quarterback was knocked out of the game on a seemingly late hit by defensive end Bryan Braman, who easily beat rookie lineman Brandon Shell. The crushing blow came moments after Petty launched a perfectly thrown 44-yard pass to rookie Robby Anderson to give the Jets a 6-0 lead.
Petty, who was slow to get up, went to the locker room after a failed two-point conversion. Although it was announced in the press box that he was probable to return, he never re-entered the game.
“That part was tough,” he said in the locker room. “For me, it was a fresh start in an NFL game. You get a half and I wanted to prove a lot. And that part got cut short, but hopefully I’ve done enough preseason and we’ll see what happens.”
X-rays taken at Lincoln Financial Field were negative, he said. But the MRI — which is scheduled for around 10 a.m. Friday, according to Petty — will give him and the team the full scope of the situation.
Asked about getting rocked by Braman, Petty said, “Oh, yeah. It was a good one.” He then joked that the pain wasn’t too bad in the immediate aftermath of his touchdown throw to Anderson. “But once the touchdown wore off, then it actually hurt.”
In the midst of it all, though, Petty maintained his sense of humor.
“Well, it’s still on there, so that’s a good sign,” he joked, referring to his tightly wrapped right arm. “We’ll be fine. I think it’s just muscles or whatever. Like I said, we’ll know more tomorrow. So, not a whole lot I can say.”
After Petty (4-for-6, 87 yards) got hurt, rookie Christian Hackenberg entered and displayed the same inaccuracy that plagued him at Penn State. He followed up a decent showing last week against the Giants with a mistake-prone performance: 11-for-31, 51 yards, 30.7 QB rating.
But his biggest offense was his red-zone pick-6 that made it 14-6 Eagles in the third quarter. “Can’t turn it over in the red zone,” coach Todd Bowles said. “No matter who the QB is.”
An underperforming offensive line had the Jets’ quarterbacks scrambling all night, but Hackenberg managed to compound the issue by telegraphing his passes and rushing his throws. Had he simply thrown the football into the dirt on his pick-6, the offense would have been able to move on to the next play. But Hackenberg’s desperation heave fell into the hands of safety Ed Reynolds, who ran it back 90 yards for the touchdown.
During his postgame interview, the rookie quarterback called the game a great learning experience.
With four quarterbacks on the roster, Petty entered the game as the possible odd man out. But his shoulder injury, even if it isn’t serious, could give the Jets a solution to their quarterback problem. General manager Mike Maccagnan could opt to place Petty on injured reserve, thereby stashing him within the organization without having to sacrifice a roster spot.
NFL teams must finalize their 53-man rosters by 4 p.m. Saturday, and soon the Jets will make their decision known.