New York Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur had a blunt assessment of how Zach Wilson’s development will be stunted with the quarterback set to miss a chunk of training camp and possibly the start of the regular season after knee surgery Tuesday.

“If you want to be good at football, you have to play football,” the Jets offensive coordinator said. “You have to practice football. That can’t happen for him right now, obviously.”

Wilson was back at the Jets training complex Thursday, walking around and eager to begin his rehab, per coach Robert Saleh. But there’s no word on when the second-year quarterback will be ready to get back on the field. Optimistically, Wilson could return in 2-4 weeks, though some reports state that 4-6 weeks is more likely. The Jets’ first game is Sept. 11 against the Baltimore Ravens, three and a half weeks away.

The Jets are fortunate that Zach Wilson will not miss more time. When he sustained a non-contact injury to his right knee during a scramble in their preseason opener against the Philadelphia Eagles on Friday, it initially appeared Wilson damaged his ACL and possibly was through for the season. Instead, he sustained a bone bruise and had the meniscus trimmed. So, the Jets feel fortunate, even though this is a setback in the development of the second overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

“Obviously, he wants to be on the field, but he can’t be right now” LaFleur said. “He’s got to get healthy. … He’s going to bust his butt in the classroom. He’s going to bust his butt in everything he needs to do to get out there because he wants to be out there.”

When asked how Wilson’s injury affects the Jets, LaFleur replied in a matter-of-fact manner.

“The show goes on.”

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That means Joe Flacco takes over as QB1, something the former Super Bowl MVP did for 12 seasons with the Ravens and Denver Broncos before coming to the Jets to back up, first, Sam Darnold, and then Wilson. It also means Mike White is elevated to be the No. 2 quarterback. And Wilson needs to stay sharp, taking “mental reps,” as Saleh referred to it.

It’s something each quarterback is acquainted with. Zach Wilson missed four games with a knee sprain as a rookie last season. So, he understands how he can still learn and progress as an NFL quarterback even when sidelined. White was 1-2 starting three games last season, and though Flacco lost his Week 11 start, 24-17 to the Miami Dolphins, he threw for nearly 300 yards and two touchdowns.

“He went through this last year, unfortunately,” LaFleur said of Wilson. “He knows what to do, what to watch, what to say in the meetings. So, he’s going to make the most of the situation … so when he’s back and ready to go, it’s full-speed ahead.”

Wilson played his best football once he returned from the four-game absence last season. He threw five touchdowns and only two interceptions in his final seven games. He made better decisions with the football and ran for four touchdowns in that stretch, too.

But no amount of “mental reps” can take the place of being on the field. Zach Wilson will miss training camp practices, scrimmages against the Atlanta Falcons and New York Giants, and also the final two preseason games.

As his offensive coordinator stated in no uncertain terms, the best way to develop as a football player is to be on the field playing football.