FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Bryce Petty can make all the throws, but it's his ability to protect the football that really impresses Todd Bowles.
"It jumped out a lot," the Jets coach said Friday after the first of three rookie minicamp practices. "Taking care of the ball is one of the quarterback's main concerns, so with him having the touchdowns that he's thrown (29), compared to the turnovers that he's thrown (seven) in a pass-happy offense [this past season at Baylor], you've got to admit that's pretty good.
"So he's gotta be making some pretty good decisions."
Unfortunately for the Jets, the same hasn't been said of Geno Smith, who is 11-18 with a .575 career completion percentage as their starter the past two seasons. Still, Bowles will have Smith take first-team reps to start training camp, followed by veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick and third-stringer Matt Simms. Petty, their fourth-round pick, is fine with being the low-man on the totem pole. For now.
"It's a mountain that I'm ready to climb, and that I'm excited to climb, Petty said of digesting the Jets' playbook after "being in a spread offense, where things might have been a little bit more simplistic in college."
In time, he hopes to be seen as more than just a one-read, system quarterback. But until then, he is focused on smaller goals like retaining the Jets' playbook.
"Right now, I have to pay my dues," said Petty, who had a nice touch on several deep balls, but also was picked off by cornerback DaShaun Phillips during practice. "I'm excited about that, I'm ready for that challenge . . . I want to be the best, I want to be productive, I want to put my guys in the best chance to be successful."
Bowles also isn't concerned about Petty adjusting to playing under center and commanding a huddle. "He's not changing sports and coming in raw," Bowles said. "He has to take snaps under center, he has to learn what to do -- no different than most of the other quarterbacks that are coming out. That doesn't mean they're bad quarterbacks, that just means they have a learning process.
" . . . If you know Bryce, he's a very engaging guy. He's very smart, he's very football-smart, so repeating plays in the huddle shouldn't be a problem."
Bowles not deflated
Bowles hasn't given the "Deflategate" fallout much thought. "That has nothing to do with our team at this time," he said, in reference to the Ted Wells report, which stated Patriots personnel likely violated rules by intentionally deflating footballs in last season's AFC Championship Game against the Colts. Despite talk that Pats quarterback Tom Brady could be suspended as a result of the probe, Bowles said: "That's not my concern. I'm practicing like he's going to play , but that's so far off that I don't event think about it."
The Jets released TE Chris Pantale, LB Chris Young and LB Mario Harvey and signed nine undrafted free agents: LB Deion Barnes, S Durell Eskridge, LB Julian Howsare, LB Taiwan Jones, S DeMarkus Perkins, TE Wes Saxton, DL Davon Walls, DE Jordan Williams and CB Greg Henderson.