Injuries Could Force Petty into Starting Role

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Ryan Fitzpatrick has ligament damage in his left thumb and he'll eventually need surgery to fix it. Geno Smith has a big bone bruise on his left shoulder, but he did escape structural damage. And while Todd Bowles listed both signal callers as day-to-day, rookie QB Bryce Petty could be in line to make his first NFL start Sunday when the Jets host the Jacksonville Jaguars at MeLife Stadium.

"We have confidence in Bryce," Bowles said today during a conference call. "Obviously he doesn't know what Ryan knows, he doesn't know what Geno knows, but he knows a good portion of our offense that he can function and go in there and play the game."

Stressing that it's still early in the week, Bowles said his confidence wasn't "very high" that either Fitzpatrick or Smith would be available against the Jags.
"I really think they're both in the same boat right now," he said. "It all depends how they heal and progress during the week."

Fitzpatrick, who has completed 61.9% of his passes with 11 TD and 7 INT this season, talked Sunday about having difficulty gripping the ball after he went down early in the 34-20 loss to the Raiders.

"You can't just live in the shotgun. You have to be able to take snaps under center as well as handing the ball off both ways," Bowles said. "With his right hand, I'm sure he can hand it off pretty good. But then you have a problem with the left hand too, so that will be a challenge."

After Fitzpatrick exited, Smith completed 27 of 42 passes against the Raiders for 265 yards with 2 TD and 1 INT.  Fitzpatrick took over the starting job after an August locker room altercation left Smith with a broken jaw.

"I think he's given them a calmness and the ability for those guys to go out and know he's going to put them in the right place and the right situation," Bowles said of Fitzpatrick. "But I though Geno came in and showed a bunch of leadership as well. It's important if you have a young team – I think it's important on any team because it creates chemistry and better chemistry. But we have some veteran guys over there that understand what it takes to win, so I think they'll be okay if he doesn't play."

Both Fitzpatrick and Smith sustained their injuries on QB runs. Fitz delivered some magic on a third-and-eight, gaining 12 but rose to his feet holding his left hand. And then later in the fourth quarter, Smith scrambled for 29 yards up the Jets' sideline before absorbing a vicious shot from Raiders DB David Amerson.

"In both cases, they both should have slid and I'll say that again," Bowles said. "Competition and in the heat of battle it's hard to tell, but we have to be smarter than that for good of the team. But you can't fault the competitiveness. We just have to be a lot smarter."

Despite the injury coming on Smith's non-throwing shoulder, Bowles said the Jets would proceed with caution.

"You're still a little bit wary because again if he takes another hit like that, he can get the same result or possibly worse," he said. "So you're still wary about it even though it's not the throwing arm."

The Jets, who are exploring all their options at QB, have discussed re-signing Matt Flynn. The veteran, a career 61.3% passer, was in camp with the Jets this summer and played well in the preseason finale against the Eagles.

"I don't think he'll panic if he'll be the guy. I don't think he'll panic in those situation, but you still have to scale back the offense in the same way if you had Bryce in there or even more so. At least Bryce has been here all the time," Bowles said. "Matt understands and he's savvy and he's a veteran.  So if you bring in one of those types of guys from a confidence level of keeping calm is one thing, but a confidence level of expanding the playbook will be totally different."

While it's clearly not an ideal situation, Bowles served as a defensive coordinator for a Cardinals club last year that lost Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton to injury and was still able to grab a playoff spot.

"There are going to be injuries in the league," said Bowles. The fact that both quarterbacks are down – we had them both down in Arizona last year, so I've kind of been through it. We just have to rally as a team and not put so much weight on that position. We have to play better everywhere else."

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