Jets coach Robert Saleh: The timing of Zach Wilson’s injury is ‘terrible’ – New York Post

Jets coach Robert Saleh: The timing of Zach Wilson's injury is 'terrible' - New York Post

For all the attention given to how many games injured Jets quarterback Zach Wilson will or won’t miss, Robert Saleh can’t help but think about all the missed practice reps.

Does Wilson’s recovery from a bone bruise and meniscus tear in his right knee fall into the optimistic 2-4 week schedule and he’s back to play Week 1 or he’s sidelined into the regular season, he won’t come back as fully developed as he otherwise would be with a full training camp going into his second season.

“The timing of it all is horrible and sucks,” Saleh said after Sunday’s practice, “but I think Zach can still have a chance to grow out of it if he attacks it mentally.”

Wilson flew to Los Angeles on Sunday, where he will undergo surgery on Tuesday by renowned orthopedist Dr. Neal ElAttrache. The hope is that Wilson only needs a meniscus tweak and not a recovery-long full repair after him crumbled to the ground making a cut at the end of a rush in Friday’s preseason game against the Eagles.

“We are optimistic, but he’s not out of the woods until they get in there and make the decision,” Saleh said. “Based on all the information that has been presented to us, I feel good, but, as I’m learning, you never know.”

Jets coach Robert Saleh speaks to the media after practice at training camp in Florham Park, NJ
Jets coach Robert Saleh speaks to the media after practice at training camp.
Bill Kostroun/New York Post

The Jets breathed easy Saturday when MR revealed that Wilson had avoided the initial worst fears from a season-ending torn ACL. Criticism of Wilson running for extra yards on the fatal play is a case of “hindsight is 20/20,” center Connor McGovern said.

There was no metaphorical dark cloud hanging over Sunday’s practice when Joe Flacco took over leading the starters and left the second string in the hands of Mike White. Right tackle Mekhi Becton (knee) is also visiting ElAttrache for a consultation, but is expected to miss the season.

“The spirits are still really high,” McGovern said. “Zach’s is not a season-ending injury, by any means. Obviously, we want him to get these really valuable reps, but … he’s going to do everything he can to get there as quickly as possible. A young guy like him, you’ve got to make sure to tell him, ‘It’s OK,’ and come back when he’s ready, and not rush it because he’s dying to get back there.”

Therein lies the risk, especially since this is Wilson’s second major right knee injury in a 10-month span, after he missed four games with a sprained PCL last season. While the Jets will leave Week 1 open as an option for Wilson, he could inadvertently cut rehab corners by trying to be cleared before 9/11.

“That’s a fair point,” Saleh said when asked about potentially ruling Wilson out against the Ravens sooner rather than later. “I think it will all depend on what happens with the surgery and the feedback we get from the doctors.”

Flacco, 37, will play in the final two preseason games against the Falcons and Giants, said Saleh, who will not overcorrect to avoid injury. The common practices leading up to those games could be promoting Wilson’s growth.

Jets quarterback Zach Wilson walks on the sideline after an injury during the first half of a preseason game against the Eagles on Friday, Aug. 12, 2022, in Philadelphia.
Jets quarterback Zach Wilson walks on the sidelines following an injury during the first half of a preseason game against the Eagles.

“It’s a bummer that Zach is missing out on an incredible opportunity to get these reps in, to play another defense — especially the Giants, who have so worked up. [defensive] pressure system,” Saleh said. “He has to stay focused — just like he was last year when he was injured — to learn from his teammates and try to be involved as mentally as he can be.”

The quarterback-center swap went smoothly on Sunday. McGovern speculated that the quarterback he most often in his career is Flacco, between 2019 as Broncos teammates and last season. Jets quarterback coach Rob Calabrese was an offensive quality control coach with those Broncos.

“When you’re the backup, your emotions are up and down during a game,” Flacco said. “It’s a transition [to starting]but because I’ve played so much football, you get back into a rhythm quickly.”

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