Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Fitzpatrick Starter, Not Hackenberg

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Fitzpatrick Starter, Not Hackenberg

Article excerpt

FLORHAM PARK -- Christian Hackenberg may be the quarterback of the Jets' future. But he's not going to get the chance to show it in his rookie season.

Coach Todd Bowles announced Tuesday that veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick, not Hackenberg, will start Sunday's season finale against Buffalo at MetLife Stadium. Bowles said the second-round pick out of Penn State would only play if there was an injury.

"If Fitz gets hurt and [Hackenberg] gets to play, you'll see him play, but if not it doesn't mean anything plus or minus that we're not playing him this year," Bowles said. "We had a plan for him going in when we drafted him. He's taken a lot of reps in practice. ... Putting him in right now isn't going to hurt or help him."

Second-year quarterback Bryce Petty replaced the struggling Fitzpatrick after Week 13 and was supposed to start the final four games of the season as an audition. But Petty suffered a torn labrum in his nonthrowing shoulder in Saturday's 41-3 loss at New England. Bowles said on Tuesday that Petty will require surgery.

Fitzpatrick, a soon-to-be free agent, has thrown 17 interceptions and will almost certainly not return to the Jets after this miserable season. The fans are already clamoring to turn the page, especially considering the 4-11 Jets are eliminated from the playoffs and have nothing to lose by trotting the rookie out there and getting a look.

But one veteran sees no need to rush.

"Why does he have to play now?" receiver Brandon Marshall said. "It's the last game of the season. He'll have a whole off-season to get better and work hard. Why would you want to do that to that kid?"

Do what, exactly?

"Throw him out there right now," Marshall said.

It's not exactly an ideal situation for a young quarterback. Injuries have decimated the offensive line, with reserves now filling four of the five positions. Hackenberg also hasn't seen live game action since the end of the preseason. …

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