Jets’ James Morgan fighting for spot as he makes homecoming versus Packers

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GREEN BAY, Wis. — James Morgan dreamed of playing at Lambeau Field for as long as he could remember.

Morgan grew up here and was a star quarterback at Ashwaubenon High School, just 1.4 miles down the road from Lambeau. He wore No. 4 as a kid in honor of Brett Favre and then switched to No. 12 for Aaron Rodgers in college.

On Saturday, he achieved his dream, but he was not playing for the home team. Morgan is the third-string quarterback for the Jets, who drafted him in 2020 in the fourth round. Morgan returned home this week for Saturday’s preseason game, which was preceded by two joint practices with the Packers. Morgan got to meet Rodgers and the two chatted and posed for pictures.

“It was really cool just getting his perspective,” Morgan said. “I got to talk to him during two-minute drill and he wanted to hear about our plays and I was picking his mind on some of that stuff. Just the depth that goes into every play for him and what he can tell by a defense in a play was really cool, especially for a young quarterback. Listening to that was really cool. I admired him and Favre growing up. To be able to share the field with him was a cool deal.” PPV

Jets quarterback James Morgan passes during a joint training camp practice with the Green Bay Packers Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021, in Green Bay, Wis.Jets third-string quarterback James Morgan went to high school down the road from Lambeau Field.AP

Morgan has gotten the celebrity treatment in his return home. There have been people asking for his autograph and the local media was eager to speak to him. He was an All-State quarterback in high school and he was the first quarterback from the Green Bay area to be drafted since Bud Keyes was taken in the 10th round by the Packers in 1988.

Morgan said his mother organized a tailgate with more than 35 people for Saturday’s game. Morgan said stepping onto the field at Lambeau would be surreal.

“I pictured that all the time,” Morgan said. “I always dreamed of that. Growing up and going to games and picturing yourself being there. It was definitely, in a sense, a dream come true for me. It’s going to be awesome on Saturday.”

For Morgan, Saturday’s game was more than just a homecoming, though. He is in a fight for a roster spot. Morgan is clearly third on the Jets’ quarterback depth chart behind Zach Wilson and Mike White and may be in jeopardy of being cut.

If Morgan does get cut, it won’t be because of a lack of effort. Morgan is constantly working. He can be spotted on the practice field before and after practice getting in more throws. When he is not in a play during practice, he stands behind the play and gets more throws in. The Jets now want to see that work translate into more production.

“We see him all the time and he is relentless,” head coach Robert Saleh said. “He’s absolutely going for it and he is getting better. And it’s just a matter of when he gets those opportunities, especially under the lights and preseason action and all that stuff, to take advantage of it and not make it any bigger. The message for James is, you’re putting in all that work, you’re putting in all that time, the game is supposed to be easy. He’s making it so hard during the week, because of how hard he’s working, that the game is supposed to be easy so just put your guard down and just let it float, just trust what you’ve been doing.”

Morgan had a tough rookie season that was affected by COVID-19 restrictions. He had no preseason games and a truncated training camp. He was not active for any games in the regular season.

“My biggest thing is just focusing on what I can control and trying to get better every day,” Morgan said. “That’s been the whole theme this year, last year. Last year with COVID there were things out of my control. All it is for me is analyzing the tape after every practice and trying to write down what I can get better at and trying to improve that.”

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