FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Todd Bowles provided clarity Monday on the ever-changing quarterback depth chart. Sort of.
Commenting for the first time since the New York Jets made their final cuts, releasing veteran quarterbacks Matt Flynn and Josh Johnson, Bowles revealed the reason they signed the two veterans was because starter Ryan Fitzpatrick "wasn't totally healthy."
"Just being nicked up, just normal injuries," Bowles said. "You didn't want anything to happen to him, so you have to have a contingency plan and you bring in some other guys."
Fitzpatrick's health bears watching because he broke his left leg last December while playing for the Houston Texans and had a steel rod surgically implanted into his lower leg. So if he's banged up after a couple of quarters of preseason work, spread out over two games, it's something to keep an eye on.
When Flynn and Johnson were signed, Bowles said he wanted short-term insurance until Geno Smith recovered from his broken jaw. At the time, he suggested there was little chance of rookie Bryce Petty emerging as the No. 2 quarterback for Week 1.
On Monday, Bowles did an about-face.
"Bryce has gotten better each week," he said, acknowledging it's risky to keep a rookie in that role. "To say that the other guys that came in so late would know more than him at that point in time, we'd be lying. Bryce knows a little more than them. They have more experience than him, but not having a full grasp of the offense, you'd be getting pretty much the same thing. We just kept Bryce because we have a lot invested in him, so we're going to give him some reps."
Bowles said they have no plans to add another quarterback "at this time," saying it'll be a week-to-week situation. He didn't dismiss the possibility of adding a vested veteran after Week 1, when the player's entire salary wouldn't be guaranteed. Johnson would fall into the category, but not Flynn, who isn't eligible for a full guaranteed salary because he received termination pay in the past.
Bottom line: Fitzpatrick will start against the Cleveland Browns, Petty will back him up and Smith will be watching in street clothes.