FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The New York Jets' 2017 quarterback competition began the same way the 2016 one played out -- with Christian Hackenberg out of sight, and not in the good way.
Veteran Josh McCown took most of the first-team reps Tuesday, when the Jets opened organized team activities in Florham Park. Petty saw the rest of the first-team reps while Hackenberg spent his practice time with the third-stringers on the back end of the two fields utilized by the team.
It would be easy to say nothing should be read into practice reps and the fields on which they are taken more than three months before the season kicks off. And both head coach Todd Bowles and offensive coordinator John Morton seem committed to holding an open competition throughout the late spring and summer.
"We're giving everybody a great opportunity to show themselves and see if they can be the starter," Morton said Tuesday.
But it certainly isn't a good sign for Hackenberg's prospects that the Jets still seem eager to hide him from public view. Neither Bryce Petty nor Hackenberg were made available to reporters on Tuesday.
The low-key OTA debut for Hackenberg came two days after ESPNNewYork.com reported scouts were worried how wobbly his passes looked in pre-game warmups last season, when he failed to make it on to the field as a rookie despite his draft pedigree (a second-round pick) and the underwhelming performances of Petty and since-jettisoned veterans Ryan Fitzpatrick and Geno Smith.
McCown, who turns 38 in July and is 2-20 as a starter since 2014, may not be much of an upgrade on Fitzpatrick and Smith. But given Petty's spotty, injury-plagued track record and Hackenberg's lack of apparent progress, McCown may not need to be any better than the quarterbacks the Jets trotted out last season in order to start behind center come September.
"Obviously, you want to see them start to separate at some point," Bowles said Tuesday. "It's going to come down to playing in games. As far as getting more reps in practice, as we go, we'll see what happens."