Absences Prompt Speculation Players Are Making Statement About Fitzpatrick Situation

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork)Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker and Nick Mangold are among the Jets not participating in organized team activities so far this week, fueling speculation they are skipping the voluntary workouts out of solidarity to quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Marshall and Decker have said publicly on multiple occasions this offseason they want the team to re-sign the free agent QB, and Fitzpatrick was seen at a Rangers playoff game last month with Mangold and Decker.

The Jets and Fitzpatrick have been at stalemate in contract talks for months.

Coach Todd Bowles was asked by reporters Wednesday about the possibility that the three veterans are holding out to make a point.

“I don’t think so,” he said, according to NJ.com. “But you’ll probably have to ask them that question.

“It’s voluntary. When they finish doing what they have to do, they’ll be here.”

All three players have otherwise been participating in the team’s offseason program.

With Fitzpatrick out of the picture for now, Geno Smith has been taking the first-team reps, albeit without his top two wide receivers and starting center to work with.

“Every single opportunity that you’re on the football field in front of our coaches, in front of our teammates is an opportunity to improve first of all, to build this team, and also whatever you have to prove, whether it’s to yourself or anyone, you get the chance to prove it,” Smith said.

Meanwhile, Bowles said second-year QB Bryce Petty and rookie Christian Hackenberg are competing behind Smith.

“I think it’s been awesome just to get out there, run around a little bit, throw the ball, get some reps with some of these new concepts,” Hackenberg said. “I think that that’s ultimately been the biggest benefit.”

The Jets opened OTAs on Tuesday, but Wednesday’s session was the first that was open to the press.

Cornerback Darrelle Revis, who is recovering from wrist surgery, was in attendance but sat out practice Wednesday. Bowles said he can’t say yet whether the seven-time Pro Bowler will be ready for the start of training camp.

Franchise-tagged defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson was also not present. He is seeking a long-term deal.