FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The second preseason game probably isn't nearly important enough for the New York Jets to play injured running back Matt Forte or rehabbing defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson. But Friday's contest against the Washington Redskins will likely be the biggest game of second-year quarterback Bryce Petty's career.
While Forte (hamstring) and Wilkerson (broken leg) are unlikely to play, Petty should see plenty of time in what may amount to his final audition with the Jets, who are trying to determine whether to carry four quarterbacks.
Starter Ryan Fitzpatrick and backup Geno Smith, who combined to play the first six series in the exhibition opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Aug. 11, may see even less time Friday so that the Jets can further evaluate Petty and/or rookie Christian Hackenberg.
Petty played the final six series against the Jaguars as Hackenberg watched from the sidelines.
Coach Todd Bowles said Wednesday that the plan is for Hackenberg to make his debut against the Redskins. But since Hackenberg, a second-round pick in April, is a lock to make the final roster, it wouldn't be surprising if the Jets once again used the second half Friday to audition Petty, a fourth-round pick out of Baylor in 2015.
Neither Petty nor Hackenberg are likely to see a lot of time in the third preseason game -- basically the regular season dress rehearsal -- against the New York Giants on Aug. 27. And if Hackenberg sits out most or all of Friday's game, it would stand to reason he'd get most of the action in the exhibition finale, which is usually populated by players with little to no chance of playing meaningful roles in the regular season.
All of which leaves Friday night as Petty's big shot to impress the Jets -- or maybe someone else.
"There's a new crop every year to take your spot," Petty told ESPNNewYork.com on Wednesday. "That's just how it is. You can't be sensitive about it. It was one of those deals where you're like, all right, here we go. It happened sooner than I thought, but here we go."
--RB Matt Forte finally began practicing this week, though he will likely wait until the third preseason game to make his game debut with the Jets.
Forte, who suffered a hamstring injury prior to training camp, participated in team drills for the first time Wednesday. Coach Todd Bowles didn't rule out the possibility Forte could play against the Redskins on Friday but admitted the chances were "slim" that he would actually see the field.
"It's good to see him out there running around," Bowles said. "He's got to get in football shape. We weren't tackling or really hit(ting) him.
"We look forward to him getting better. If he doesn't have any setbacks (Thursday), then we'll move forward."