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With Ryan Fitzpatrick sitting, Matt Flynn should get nod in Jets' finale

Matt Flynn needs to get some significant playing time on Saturday if the Jets want him to back up Ryan Fitzpatrick. Al Pereira/Getty Images North America

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- There will be no drum roll for this quarterback announcement, that's for sure.

Bryce Petty or Matt Flynn?

Todd Bowles said Monday he hasn't decided which quarterback will start for the New York Jets in the preseason finale Thursday night against the Philadelphia Eagles. We know it won't be Ryan Fitzpatrick, who will get the night off, as will most of the starters.

"As much as (Petty) needs playing time, I need to see those other two guys play, too," said Bowles, referring to Flynn and Josh Johnson.

The smart decision: Start Flynn.

If the plan is to make him the No. 2 quarterback for opening day -- that's why they signed him, right? -- the Jets have to get him some work against the Eagles. Flynn, who pulled a hamstring while training before camp, practiced Monday for the first time since signing with the Jets on Aug. 18. Come to think of it, it was his first practice since last season with the Green Bay Packers.

Flynn has been watching for two weeks, playing the role of sponge -- absorbing the playbook and the wisdom of Chan Gailey. The man is rusty; he played only 67 snaps last season as Aaron Rodgers' caddie. Flynn needs to play, and it might as well be the first half against the Eagles. It wouldn't be quality time -- he'd be surrounded by backups on both sides of the ball -- but it's the best time they've got left.

The development of Petty has to be set aside, because the regular-season in only 13 days away. Besides, Petty can play the second half, along with Josh Johnson. Petty has had plenty of work in the preseason -- 27-for-45, 260 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions.

It's hard to keep track of the Jets' quarterbacks, isn't it? Things got crazy on Aug. 11, when Geno Smith was punched in the face by then-teammate Ikemefuna Enemkpali. Fitzpatrick was elevated to No. 1, but there was a void at No. 2 -- no one with experience. Petty has upside, but he's not ready to be the No. 2, at least not in Week 1 against the Cleveland Browns.

"I would definitely expect to get snaps (on Thursday)," Flynn said. "I don't know how they're going to break it up."

Bowles confirmed that Flynn will play, barring a hamstring setback in practice. Johnson, signed last week as an emergency option, also could play. They added him, Bowles explained, because there was uncertainty with Flynn's hamstring.

"Obviously, they liked what they saw," Johnson said, referring to his workout last week. "Now it's an opportunity to go in the game and show what I can do."

The fourth preseason game is a Backup Bowl, populated by players on the bottom half of the roster. As Flynn said, "I've played in a lot of preseason games and a lot of fourth preseason games. It always seems the fourth game is the most fun, just because a lot of guys are fighting for their lives out there."

Flynn is one of those guys, and the Jets have to find out if he's a worthy insurance policy -- at least until Smith's jaw is healed.