Christian Hackenberg shows definite signs of progress in Jets' preseason opener

MAY 23 2017 FILE

He was Newsday's football writer covering the Jets and Giants, as well as the NFL, from 1989-91.

After Josh McCown led the Green & White to a scoring drive in his only series, Hackenberg entered just past the midway point of the first quarter.

Hack also fumbled the ball twice, first on the final play of the first half (recovered by New York), and again on his last play of the night, giving it up to the Titans.

With Christian Hackenberg taking the field Saturday night against the Titans, the Jets rarely let their second-year quarterback air it out.

He was essentially red-shirted for his freshman National Football League season, with the Jets deciding he needed a year's worth of looking and listening before actually contributing on the field. At least he looked as if he belonged on the field and in the huddle, his eyes focused down the field and not dazed in the headlights.

Corner Darryl Roberts was burned for a 42-yard gain, and Bryce Petty didn't do much as he played the final quarter and change behind Hackenberg and McCown. He wasn't erratic, he didn't throw an interception and on most plays, he made smart checkdowns rather than forcing a pass. Hackenberg finished 18-for-25 for 127 yards. He also almost had a pass intercepted in the first half after it was tipped at the line.

By all accounts, Ross Martin is "winning" the kicking competition in camp as Catanzaro misses short field goal attempts with embarrassing frequency.

Last year Marcus Mariota's season was cut short after suffering a season ending injury against Jacksonville on December 24. McCown will never be mistaken for Tom Brady, but there is a veteran presence that can serve the Jets well in the interim. After a roster purge this offseason, the Jets only have four players over the age of 30. He's getting better. Baby steps, but steps nonetheless.

And then there was Hackenberg, who had a good night by any measure.

This is the question that's probably on the minds of most Jets fans.

At some point, the time will be right for Hackenberg to get his chance, but there is still plenty of time to let the situation sort itself out.

QB depth chart: McCown, the presumptive Week 1 quarterback, started the game and orchestrated a touchdown drive on his only possession.

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