NEW YORK — It could be all hands on deck for the New York Jets’ preseason finale.
Coach Todd Bowles said all of his healthy players could be available to play against the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday night — and that includes quarterbacks Josh McCown, Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg.
Bowles wouldn’t reveal his plans for the game, but he also didn’t rule out playing all three quarterbacks.
“Football is football,” Bowles said during a conference call. “It doesn’t matter who we play. Everybody is available to play. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the quarterback, the punter, the snapper, and I’ll play them as I see fit.”
On Monday, the coach announced that McCown would be the Jets’ starter in Week 1 at Buffalo on Sept. 10. Many teams typically rest their starters in the final preseason game to protect them from injuries while giving roster-bubble players a chance to make one last impression. But Bowles left open the possibility that he could have some of his top players see some action.
“We need to do some things, so we’ll work on them,” Bowles said. “If I decide to play or not play them, that will be my decision.”
McCown has played only the opening series of the preseason, leading New York to a touchdown against Tennessee. It would be unusual for a team to have its starting quarterback get such little work in the preseason. But Bowles and quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates cited the 38-year-old McCown’s NFL experience and extensive snaps in offseason workouts and the beginning of training camp as reasons to feel confident that he’ll be ready for the season opener.
“I don’t think of anything as far as Josh playing,” Bowles said of the risk-reward factor of possibly playing McCown. “I think of it as a team standpoint. If the team needs to work on something, we work on it. It doesn’t matter whether it’s for Thursday, whether it’s next week, whether it’s two weeks from now, it doesn’t matter. If we need to work on stuff, we work on it.”
McCown also wasn’t concerned about the lack of game action in the preseason.
“I’ll be ready to go,” the quarterback said Monday. “We’re getting good work in practice throughout the week. Today, and tomorrow will be good days and I’ll be ready to go.”
The Jets used the preseason to get long looks at both Hackenberg and Petty — and to see if either could challenge McCown for the starting job.
Hackenberg had a few positive moments during the summer but doesn’t yet appear to be a viable starting candidate.
Petty was mostly solid in the last two games, but he is recovering from a sprained left knee suffered in the game against the Giants last Saturday. Bowles said he practiced Tuesday.
“I feel optimistic about him,” the coach said of Petty’s chances of playing against the Eagles.
NOTES: LB Lorenzo Mauldin didn’t practice because of a back ailment that has bothered him most of camp. Bowles acknowledged that putting Mauldin on injured reserve is “possible,” but added, “not at this time.” … S Rontez Miles continues to heal from an eye injury that Bowles called “pretty severe.” Miles was hurt at Detroit on Aug. 19. “He had a little trouble seeing out of it, so he’s been resting,” Bowles said. … Chairman and CEO Christopher Johnson announced at the team’s kickoff luncheon in Manhattan, on behalf of the Johnson family and the Jets, a $1 million donation to Red Cross for hurricane relief efforts. … The team announced that former All-Pro center Kevin Mawae will be the 18th player inducted into the Jets’ Ring of Honor. Mawae played for New York from 1998-2005 and will be honored during a ceremony at halftime of its game against Jacksonville on Oct. 1.