With final cuts right around the corner, the New York Jets currently have four quarterbacks listed on their preseason roster. Of those four, two have missed time with significant injuries and their status for the regular season is up in the air.
Backup quarterback Mark Brunell has missed most of the preseason with a calf injury, but the team has not been concerned due to the improved play of rookie quarterback Greg McElroy.
McElroy, the Jets' seventh-round pick in this year's draft, has impressed the coaches and the fans with his preseason play, and many believe that he could eventually become the team's backup behind Mark Sanchez.
However, McElroy dislocated his thumb during last night's game against Philadelphia and was seen on the sideline wearing a cast. He was replaced by fourth-string quarterback Drew Willy, who finished the game 9-for-17 with 109 yards and a TD.
So who will be the backup quarterback behind Sanchez when the Jets face the Dallas Cowboys next Sunday? Brunell and McElroy are both listed as questionable for next week's game, and Willy is on the bubble to make the 53-man roster.
If neither quarterback can get healthy, the Jets may have to rely on signing a free agent to fill the hole for a week or two. However, the list of free-agent quarterbacks is weak. The best known names currently available are former Bengals QB Jordan Palmer and former Bills QB J.P. Losman, both of whom have shown to be unreliable in their careers.
Drew Willy has not really proved himself as a quarterback in the NFL, and has been mediocre in the preseason. Willy was an undrafted free agent in 2009, and he and McElroy have never started an NFL game. Brunell, who is entering his 17th season in the NFL, has started just one game since 2006.
Head coach Rex Ryan failed to comment on the status of Greg McElroy, but he was optimistic about Brunell being able to play in Week 1. However, if Brunell and McElroy are both unable to go against Dallas, the Jets will have to hope Mark Sanchez can stay healthy enough to make it through the season.
But Sanchez has also had injury concerns in his career. In just two seasons with the Jets, Sanchez has suffered a shoulder injury that held him out of a game in 2009 and a knee injury that required surgery. He is 100 percent healthy going into the 2011 season, but it would make many fans feel better if the team had an experienced backup behind him.
The Jets have a week to figure out their quarterback situation, and with final cuts currently happening around the league, expect the Jets to make a move to bring in another quarterback or keep Willy on the 53-man roster.
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