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With Ryan Fitzpatrick and Geno Smith hurting, Jets scrambling with quarterback plans

Geno Smith of the New York Jets looks

Geno Smith of the New York Jets looks on during an NFL game at MetLife Stadium on Sept. 27, 2015. Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

What a week Jets coach Todd Bowles has staring him in the face. Quarterbacks Ryan Fitzpatrick and Geno Smith both are battling serious injuries that put their playing status in limbo, with offensive coordinator Chan Gailey drafting contingency game plans in case the Jets have to start third-string rookie Bryce Petty against Jacksonville on Sunday or go with a veteran signed off the street.

Coming off a 34-20 loss at Oakland, the Jets' second consecutive defeat, Bowles said Monday in a conference call that Fitzpatrick has at least one torn ligament in his left thumb that eventually will require surgery, and Smith has a "big bruise" on his left shoulder but no structural damage.

Both quarterbacks are considered day-to-day. Bowles declined to put the chances of one playing ahead of the other, saying: "I really think they're both in the same boat right now. It all depends on how they heal and progress during the week. Right now, it's the day after, so those guys are pretty sore. I'll have a better feel on Wednesday.

"We're going to give Bryce some reps, and we're going to look out and see what else is out there just in case we need to get somebody in here to back up."

The NFL trade deadline is Tuesday, and Bowles said the Jets are exploring all avenues to obtain emergency quarterback help. But a more likely option would be to sign a free agent, and Bowles acknowledged one name under consideration is Matt Flynn, who spent a couple of weeks with the Jets in training camp and started the final exhibition game.

Weighing the benefits of Flynn's NFL experience against Petty's familiarity with Gailey's offense, Bowles said: "If it's Flynn, I don't think he'll panic if he would be the guy. But at the same time, you've still got to scale the offense back the same way as if you had Bryce in there or even more so. At least Bryce has been here all the time."

Fitzpatrick and Smith were injured on scrambles and took a hit at the end of the run instead of sliding.

"I thought in both cases, they both should've slid," Bowles said. "You can't fault the competitiveness. We've just got to be a lot smarter."

If Fitzpatrick were to have surgery right away, Bowles said he is uncertain how long the recovery would be. Fitzpatrick's ability to play with his injury depends on his pain tolerance.

"You can't just live in the shotgun [formation]," Bowles said. "You've got to be able to take snaps under center, as well as handing the ball off both ways. So that will be a challenge if you're in pain."

The risk to Smith, who completed 27 of 42 passes for 265 yards and two touchdowns with one interception, is that another hit to the same area could cause more serious damage. Bowles gained experience in a similar situation as an assistant with the Cardinals when they lost two quarterbacks last season.

"I've kind of been through it," Bowles said. "We have to rally as a team and not put so much weight on that position. We've got to play better everywhere else."


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