New York Jets: Josh McCown caught in quarterback roulette

By The Sports Xchange
New York Jets Twitter
New York Jets Twitter

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Maybe Josh McCown didn't lock up the New York Jets' starting quarterback job in absentia last Saturday after all.

Jets head coach Todd Bowles continued to preside over an inexplicably suspenseful quarterback competition this week when McCown continued to take a back seat in practice to Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty.


It appeared as if McCown won the job by default when Hackenberg produced just 14 yards passing in the first half of a 16-6 loss to the Detroit Lions in the second preseason game. But Hackenberg saw the majority of first-team reps at three practices this week, as the Jets prepared for this Saturday's so-called "dress rehearsal" third preseason game - when teams normally unveil their starting lineups - against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium.


Of course, these are the Jets, so Hackenberg took 48 snaps in practice while Petty took 38 and McCown took just 13.

Sound weird? It looked even weirder. McCown, who played one series in the preseason opener and directed the Jets to their lone touchdown thus far, took just one snap on Thursday and spent much of Tuesday's practice running gassers on the side.

Bowles, trying to do his best Bill Belichick impersonation, declined to explain why Hackenberg - who didn't play a regular-season down as a rookie last year and hasn't directed a scoring drive in his last 26 preseason possessions dating back to last August - is seeing so much time with the first-team offense or who will start Saturday.

"I'll see how they play Saturday night and then I'll make (the decision) after that," Bowles said Thursday afternoon. "We'll watch the tape and we'll come to a decision and we'll make it as a group."

As for when Bowles might reveal the big decision? After saying earlier this week he'd announce it next Monday, Bowles hedged on Thursday.

"It will be that week - earlier in that week," Bowles said. "If it's not Monday, it will be Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. But it will be that week as soon as we come to a decision."


If this is the oddest thing McCown's seen in a 15-year NFL career that's taken him to eight different teams, he's not saying.

"There's no substitute (for reps), but I also understand there's a plan in place to evaluate the roster and evaluate our team and evaluate this position group," McCown said Thursday.

Perhaps the world will find out for itself Saturday.

--Outside linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin is unlikely to make his preseason debut Saturday. Only time will tell if it costs him his starting job and/or roster spot with the Jets.

Head coach Todd Bowles said Mauldin, who has missed the first two exhibition games due to a back injury, was moving around better Thursday but sounded pessimistic regarding his chances to suit up against the Giants.

"If I had to make an answer right now, I would say no, he doesn't play," Bowles said.

Bowles didn't say Mauldin's roster spot was in jeopardy, but he didn't guarantee it, either. Mauldin is reportedly on the outs with the Jets because of his absences from practice this summer, his on-field fight with teammate Kelvin Beachum earlier in training camp and his arrest for his role in a bar fight in the spring.


Complicating matters for Mauldin is the fact rookie Dylan Donahue and veterans Freddie Bishop and Josh Martin have played well in his absence.

"He has to get healthy and the other guys have to make plays, so it's open," Bowles said. "We'll see these next two games who comes up with it."

--The Jets and former defensive lineman Joe Klecko didn't get the news they wanted Thursday, when the Pro Football Hall of Fame named former Houston Oilers linebacker Robert Brazile and Green Bay Packers guard Jerry Kramer as the senior finalists for the class of 2018. The class will be unveiled during Super Bowl weekend in February.

The Jets' website produced several pieces this summer highlighting the candidacy of Klecko, who made the Pro Bowl at three different positions (defensive end, defensive tackle and nose tackle) during a 12-season career. Klecko is eligible again to be nominated as a senior finalist next year.

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