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Jets executive: We have high hopes for Hackenberg

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Whether or not the Jets ultimately re-sign Ryan Fitzpatrick, the buzz around rookie quarterback Christian Hackenberg continues to stream out of Florham Park.

After Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan hinted that the former Penn State passer could play this autumn, and after offensive coordinator Chan Gailey touted Hackenberg's "intelligence" and "decision-making," the team's director of player personnel added another dose of high-octane praise on Thursday.

"I think we have high hopes for Hack," Brian Heimerdinger told WGFX-FM in Nashville, per Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. "He had a tough time in college, but he's an unbelievable kid. He's real smart. I've really enjoyed him so far since he's been in the building. We'll see how he progresses over the next couple of years."

Heimerdinger shot down the notion that drafting Hackenberg in the second round equals doom for second-year quarterback Bryce Petty.

"Personally our opinion is (that) you don't draft on what your roster is," Heimerdinger said. "We like to fill our needs in free agency and draft the best available (player). In regards to Bryce, that's not really a slight at Bryce any more than drafting a linebacker (Darron Lee) is a slight at David Harris in that regard."

If Fitzpatrick re-ups, the Jets have a decision to make under center. While fourth-year quarterback Geno Smith offers more experience than Petty, he's an underwhelming signal-caller who wasn't chosen by this regime. If either young arm stands out in camp, the other could be scattered to the wind.

Like Maccagnan and coach Todd Bowles, though, Heimerdinger would like to see the team finally agree to a deal with the trusty Fitzpatrick over thrusting some naïf into the starting lineup.

"You hope to find some middle ground somewhere," Heimerdinger said. "I think we've said all along as an organization that we want him back. I don't think that's changed at all. We'll see how it plays out over the next couple of months. We're hoping to get him back in."

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