Zach Wilson was back at the New York Jets’ training complex two days after surgery on his right knee, and coach Robert Saleh said the quarterback will start Week 1 against the Baltimore Ravens if he’s “ready to go.”
Right now, that appears to be a long shot, considering that the season opener is three and a half weeks away. Wilson has a bone bruise on his right knee and had his meniscus trimmed in a procedure Tuesday. Wilson injured the knee during a scramble in the Jets’ 24-21 win against the Philadelphia Eagles in their preseason opener Friday.
Coach Saleh gives an update on QB Zach Wilson, who is back in the building. pic.twitter.com/HjB6kR0gAd
— New York Jets (@nyjets) August 18, 2022
The 23-year-old was walking around the complex Thursday, per Saleh, who cautioned that the Jets will not rush Wilson back on to the field. All involved feel fortunate that Wilson is not expected to be out too long considering it initially looked like he may have sustained damage to his ACL.
Should Zach Wilson not be ready for Week 1, Joe Flacco would start against his former team. Flacco played his first 11 seasons in the NFL with the Ravens, leading them to six playoff appearances and a Super Bowl title in 2013, when he was named MVP in the win against the San Francisco 49ers.
OC Mike LaFleur on the Wilson injury: “The show goes on.” #Jets pic.twitter.com/mfvxtH9MV2
— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) August 18, 2022
Earlier in the week, Saleh said that the Jets have three starting quarterbacks with Wilson, Flacco and Mike White. Flacco, by far the most experienced quarterback on the roster, has had an excellent training camp. In his one start last season after Wilson sustained a knee injury, Flacco threw for nearly 300 yards and two touchdowns in a Week 11 loss to the Miami Dolphins. White started three games in Wilson’s absence last season, including a 405-yard, three-TD performance in a Week 8 upset win against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Saleh emphasized that Wilson will not be rushed back on the field until he’s physically ready to practice and then play.
“We’re going to make sure we do right by him in terms of making sure he’s 100 percent healthy,” Saleh said.
As for whether he thinks Zach Wilson or Joe Flacco will start Week 1, Saleh demurred, “I don’t know that I have an opinion on that one.”
Saleh did say that until Wilson is healthy enough to practice, the young quarterback will need to be diligent about taking “mental reps” during practice and remain engaged during meetings.
“Unfortunately, he’s been through this before, last year he had to go through the same thing,” Saleh said. “He had a lot of great growth last year and expect him to have continued growth this year.”
Of course, simply having Zach Wilson back in the complex Thursday and seeing that his return is on the horizon is a big lift to the Jets. And there’s no doubt this is the best possible outcome from his injury and surgery.