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Bryce Petty's MCL injury muddles Jets' QB situation

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  • By Jeremy Bergman NFL.com
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Bad news on the New York Jets quarterback front. What's new?

An MRI on Sunday revealed Bryce Petty suffered a considerable MCL injury, sources tell NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport. Petty did not suffer any ACL damage.

Typically, reports of a third-string quarterback with a career passer rating of 60.0 enduring a knee injury in a preseason game wouldn't deserve much coverage. But this one is different.

Before suffering the injury on Saturday night, Petty had performed quite well with the second-stringers in the second half of Gang Green's loss to the crosstown rival Giants. Replacing a ghastly Christian Hackenberg and inheriting a 26-point deficit, Petty led three touchdown drives, drawing the Jets back within a touchdown of tying the preseason test. The third-year quarterback finished with an otherworldly stat line (15-of-18, 250 yards, 3 touchdowns) and had fans and reporters clamoring for Petty to replace Hack as the No. 2 and even to be considered for the forever vacant starting role.

Now that appears unlikely, as Petty could miss time with his MCL injury, leaving only Hackenberg and veteran Josh McCown, originally the favorites to win the job, to contend for snaps.

The Jets have struggled to evaluate the quarterback position for decades, but they sure have made a mess of it this preseason.

McCown began training camp taking the most snaps and earned himself the start in New York's first preseason game, in which he played one series and led an impressive touchdown drive. The veteran has not played one snap since.

Instead, the Jets increased Hackenberg's reps in practice and gave him the start in their next two preseason games, while limiting McCown's practice reps and sidelining the veteran completely, including in their third preseason game, typically considered the dress rehearsal.

In three games this preseason, Hackenberg has essentially played himself out of the starting job, turning 22 possessions into just nine points. He is 32-for-53 for 267 yards (5.1 yards per attempt) with one touchdown, two packs and six sacks. And if Hackenberg's stats don't cement his status in the QB room, his game tape sure will.

Meanwhile, Petty, who started four games in place of Ryan Fitzpatrick last season, has proven to be a viable, if not intriguing, backup, putting together quality performances with the second- and third-stringers.

But with Petty injured, Hackenberg is almost guaranteed to inherit the backup role, while the 38-year-old McCown, who despite being healthy hasn't taken a snap since Aug. 12, starts the season under center. New York might also have to look to the free-agent market, where there are plenty qualified options, for another backup.

Jets coach Todd Bowles said last week that he expects to name a starting quarterback by Monday or Tuesday, putting an end to a summer of speculation and a mismanaged competition. But don't expect this QB drama to end any time soon. With the Jets, it rarely does.

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