FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) Bryce Petty went from roster bubble to starting quarterback in a matter of four months.
With lots of twists and turns in between.
The second-year player out of Baylor was no lock to make the New York Jets out of training camp, back when he was competing for the No. 3 job and the team was facing the possibility of keeping four quarterbacks on its active roster.
''To that point, I'm not supposed to be here, and I know that,'' Petty said Wednesday. ''So, I don't take this for granted.''
Petty will make his second NFL start Sunday at San Francisco, but first since being made the Jets' unquestioned starter for the final four games of the season.
That's quite a leap for a guy who was behind both Ryan Fitzpatrick and Geno Smith coming into the season, with rookie Christian Hackenberg, a second-round pick, considered a project but a potential franchise quarterback. That left Petty the likely odd-man out - until New York surprisingly kept him around.
''There's not a lot of teams, that I know of anyways, that would take four quarterbacks,'' Petty said. ''I really appreciate that. That's something I think about on a daily basis.''
Fitzpatrick has been benched for the second time this season, and has likely played his last game for the Jets. Smith's opportunity to regain the starting job lasted less than two quarters because of a season-ending knee injury in Week 7 against Baltimore.
With the Jets mathematically eliminated from the playoff hunt after a 41-10 blowout loss to Indianapolis, coach Todd Bowles decided to turn to Petty to give the young quarterback an extended look. At the very least, Petty is the QB for now. He gets a chance to prove whether he can be the QB for the future, too.
''I'd be lying to you if I said I didn't know that,'' Petty said. ''At the same time, I'm just trying to take it one game at a time. For me, this is an awesome opportunity. One, being that (to prove himself). But, two, I get to contribute and help my team in any way I can, and I hold that really high on my priority list. That's No. 1, is to win.''
Petty started a month ago against Los Angeles in place of an injured Fitzpatrick, and went 19 of 32 for 163 yards and a touchdown with one interception. In mop-up duty against the Colts, he was 11 of 25 for 135 yards with a TD and two INTs.
After that game, though, Bowles announced that Petty would be the starter the rest of the way. Wednesday marked the first practice since that decision.
''He looked really poised and comfortable today, more so than Monday night,'' wide receiver Brandon Marshall said. ''He threw the ball extremely well and he threw it where it was supposed to go.''
Marshall also revealed that Petty is routinely the first player to the facility every day. That has been a new development this season, and Marshall has even stopped beginning his trek in from Brooklyn before 5:30 a.m. to try to beat Petty in.
''Last year, he was fat and overweight,'' Marshall said of Petty. ''I'm being honest. Fitz picked on him all year. ... His body has changed. He's ripped up, he has abs. He's focused. He goes from the weight room to breakfast to film and he's relentless about it.''
Petty has a lot of winning on his college resume, having won two Big 12 championships with Baylor and putting up eye-popping passing numbers, including a Cotton Bowl-record 550 yards in a 42-41 loss to Michigan State on Jan. 1, 2015.
Heading into the NFL draft last year, there were mixed reviews on Petty. Some said he was simply a product of Art Briles' grip-and-rip system and would need lots of work at the next level. Others said he was a terrific athlete who could develop, with seasoning, into a potential NFL starter.
The Jets took him in the fourth round, seemingly of the opinion he could be a key piece to their future. But then they drafted Hackenberg this year in the second round, which is usually a spot where eventual starters are taken.
Coupled with a shoulder injury in the preseason finale, Petty's future with New York grew suddenly uncertain.
''I don't know if it necessarily lit anything that wasn't there before,'' Petty said. ''My goal since I've been in here was to be the starter of the New York Jets. So, whether they drafted a kid, I think that's one of the things that keeps the drive in you, is to know they're always looking for somebody to replace you.
''Whether they do it or not, is one thing. For me, it was just another reminder that, hey, this is for real. You've got to put up or shut up.''
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