FLORHAM PARK, NJ — The New York Jets have been noncommittal on a schedule for an injured quarterback Zach Wilsonsaying it depends on the outcome of arthroscopic knee surgery Tuesday in Los Angeles.
“We’re optimistic, but he’s not out of the woods until they get in there and make the decision [on how to handle the meniscus],” coach Robert Saleh said Sunday.
Wilson, injured in Friday night’s preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles, is expected to miss two to four weeks with a bone bruise and a torn meniscus in his right knee, sources said Saturday. This projection was based on MR. The current belief is that the meniscus only needs “trimming,” not a full repair, a source said.
The team hopes it won’t last more than four weeks, but it won’t give an absolute to the extent that will be done by knee expert Neal ElAttrache, the team doctor for the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Dodgers.
ElAttrache will also have a consultation with an injured right tackle Mekhi Becton (knee), who is expected to miss the entire season.
While the Jets were relieved to learn that Wilson’s injury is not season-ending, they acknowledged that it could hinder his development early in the season. He will miss the final two preseason games, plus joint practices against the Atlanta Falcons and New York Giants.
“It’s a letdown because he’s missing out on an incredible opportunity to get into the reps, play other defenses, especially the Giants, who have such an elaborate pressure-packing system,” Saleh said. “He needs to be called up, just like he did last year when he was injured.
“The timing of it all is horrible and sucks, but I think Zach still has a chance to grow from it if he attacks it mentally.”
Wilson, drafted second overall in 2021, missed four games as a rookie after spraining the PCL in his right knee — the same knee he injured against the Eagles on a non-contact play in which he scrambled instead of running out of bounds.
Reservation Joe Flaccowho took the first-team reps in practice, said Wilson was “a little down” after the game, adding that his mood had brightened by Sunday.
“I think, considering what happened, we got some pretty good news,” said Flacco, who has started just 13 games since being benched in 2018 by the Baltimore Ravens — the Jets’ Week 1 opponent. “I think he’s in a good mood today.”
Realistically, it will probably be Flacco against the Ravens, considering there will be a period of growth for Wilson. Saleh acknowledged that the organization must be careful not to rush him back, calling it a “valid” issue that will be discussed after the surgical procedure is complete.
The quarterback, whether it’s Wilson or Flacco, will be behind a new-look offensive line. The team responded to Becton’s injury by signing a former Pro Bowl tackle Duane Brown to a two-year, $22 million contract. There was some question about where he would line up, but he will remain a left tackle, Saleh confirmed on Sunday.
Brown, who agreed to terms on Thursday, is expected to arrive Sunday night to sign his contract. He should start practicing this week.
That means moving George Fant to the right gear, maybe an awkward situation. The coaches spent the offseason gushing about Fant’s performance last season at left tackle. In fact, they anointed him the 2022 starter at the start of training camp, moving Becton — a 2020 first-round pick — to right tackle.
Previously, Fant said his preference was to remain a left tackle. He played better on the left than on the right, Saleh admitted. Rationalizing the move, Saleh said Fant hasn’t had a real chance to play right tackle in the Jets’ current scheme (except for two quarters in the 2021 opener). They believe that this scheme, in contrast to the previous one, will accentuate his abilities.
The other factor: Brown has started at left tackle in all 203 of his career games.
“His curse is also a blessing,” Saleh said of Fant, who is seeking a contract extension. “He’s extremely versatile, very athletic. And he’s a team player. … He just wants a home.”