- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 15, 2017

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) - The re-education of Christian Hackenberg is well underway.

The New York Jets’ second-year quarterback took the field in a game for the first time in nearly a year last Saturday night, getting extensive action in the win over Tennessee. And as far as offensive coordinator John Morton was concerned, there was plenty to like.

“He did a really good job,” Morton said Tuesday. “He was decisive on his throws. I thought he was accurate. I thought he did a really nice job.”

Consider this Year 1: Rebooted for Hackenberg, who never took a snap in the regular season last year.

“He was poised, and that’s what you want to see,” Morton said. “Basically, he’s a rookie, and we thought he did a really nice job with that.”

Still, Hackenberg appeared to be caught off guard a bit by the suggestion that this is basically like his first year in the NFL from an experience standpoint.

“No, I don’t think I’d say that,” Hackenberg said. “I just feel good with the opportunities that I’ve been given and being able to go out and take advantage of them this year. So, yeah.”

Hackenberg, a second-round pick out of Penn State last year, was 18 of 25 for 127 yards while running Morton’s mostly conservative offense against the Titans. He produced no points in eight possessions in the 7-3 win, but also had no turnovers.

Still No. 2 in the Jets’ three-man quarterback competition, Hackenberg is doing all he can to make Josh McCown starting in Week 1 at Buffalo less of the near-certainty that it now appears.

“I think it’s really just trying to do everything that I’ve been trying to do up until this point,” Hackenberg said, “which is just go out and operate, do what’s asked of me, take what the defense gives me and continue to grow and see things and make adjustments when it’s called upon.”

Hackenberg came to the Jets as what many considered was a project, a player who needed to sit and learn while improving his physical skills.

It was basically a red-shirt season for the young QB. New York is using this training camp to get a better sense if he could be the face of the franchise or if it needs to look elsewhere next offseason. Hackenberg is getting lots of snaps throughout practices, with an increasing number with the starting offense.

That doesn’t necessarily mean, however, that he’s any closer to becoming the Jets’ starter.

“It’s too early to tell,” Morton said. “We’re in this training camp mode and we have to play a couple more preseason games and then we’ll have a better feel and see where we’re at. It’s a whole different story when you get in games and evaluate guys.

“That’s the real evaluation.”

Coach Todd Bowles hasn’t revealed the team’s quarterback rotation for its next game Saturday night in Detroit, but it’s likely McCown will start again and play more than just the one touchdown-leading series he got against Tennessee.

While Morton acknowledged that Hackenberg “gets better every day,” Bowles was not as generous with his praise when asked how much he has improved since last year.

“I don’t know if he’s better at anything,” the coach said. “He’s just learning the offense and having the whole spring and taking the reps more, he’s getting to play more and as he plays more, everything becomes easier for him so he’s better mentally from that standpoint.”

Hackenberg prefers to not dwell on the past. He’s solely focused on the future - and becoming the player the Jets are hoping for, whether that means in Week 1 or later this season.

“I just think it’s two totally different situations,” Hackenberg said. “I don’t really like comparing last year to this year. It’s a new year. I learned from last year those things that have helped put me in the situation I’m in now. I feel good.”

NOTES: RB Bilal Powell (neck) participated in team drills after not practicing fully since Aug. 4. … Newly signed WR Dan Williams made a nice move for a 50-yard reception on a throw from Hackenberg, but came off after the play with an undisclosed injury. … Special teams coach Brant Boyer said the Jets’ kicking competition is “a dogfight” between Chandler Catanzaro and Ross Martin.


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