Warming up in the Jets' bullpen ... Christian Hackenberg -- finally

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- After waiting nearly two full seasons, the New York Jets are prepared to remove Christian Hackenberg from bubble wrap.

The mystery quarterback is taking some first-team reps in practice this week and could make his NFL debut in a relief role in the season finale on Sunday against the New England Patriots.

"We'll see," coach Todd Bowles said Wednesday.

Bowles didn't want to be pinned down on specifics, saying, "We'll see how the game goes." But, for the first time since Hackenberg was drafted, Bowles acknowledged there's a chance.

Bryce Petty will start for the third straight week and the seventh time in his career, so the organization has a pretty good feel for him. It makes sense to give Hackenberg a chance, especially in a meaningless game. What is there to lose?

"[To] put him out there the last game and expect him to be Superman, we’d be fooling ourselves," said Bowles, perhaps trying to temper expectations.

No one expects to see a superhero, but the organization invested a second-round pick in Hackenberg, who has been collecting dust at a historic rate. If he doesn't play Sunday, he'd be only the third quarterback picked in the first two rounds of the modern-draft era (since 1967) who didn't see the field in his first two seasons.

Hackenberg, active in only four of 31 games, said he's ready.

"I've felt that way since I got here," he said. "I know I'm confident in my abilities. There are things that everyone needs to know and grow from. It's a progression, it's a process. I always say it's a 500-foot view, not a 5-foot view. We have to continue to look at the big picture and keep growing.

"It's my journey," he continued. "I love it, I love every minute of it. It's been really cool, it's been unique to be able to sit back and learn and watch and get reps when I have the opportunity. I'm excited for the next step."

Hackenberg led the Jets' quarterbacks in preseason reps, but he didn't play well and lost the No. 2 job to Petty. No matter what happens Sunday, Hackenberg will be back next year, probably battling for a backup position.

What can be gained by playing him on Sunday? Not much, but it'll satisfy the curiosity of many.