Robert Saleh undecided to play New York Jets starters in second preseason game – ESPN

Robert Saleh undecided to play New York Jets starters in second preseason game - ESPN

FLORHAM PARK, NJ — New York Jets coach Robert Saleh can’t decide whether to play his starters Monday night against the Atlanta Falcons.

“I’m torn on it,” Saleh said Saturday after the second joint practice with the Falcons. “I wake up one day and I’m like, ‘Okay, they’re going to play.’ The next day I wake up and they’re not going to play.”

It’s a multi-layered decision for Saleh. The starters played just two series in the preseason opener against the Philadelphia Eagles, and they typically don’t play in the final game. If they sit against the Falcons, it would be like having three in a row until weeks before the 9/11 season.

On the flip side, there is the injury factor. The Jets have already suffered key injuries to right tackle Mekhi Becton (season-ending knee surgery) and quarterback Zach Wilson (arthroscopic knee surgery). Wilson, injured against the Eagles, is expected to miss about a month, making it likely Joe Flacco will face the Ravens in Week 1.

Flacco, 37, didn’t see any action against the Eagles, so he wouldn’t have any game reps before the opener — a risky proposition for a quarterback who hasn’t seen much game action in recent years.

“He doesn’t need it, but I feel like everybody can use it as a reminder of how to prepare yourself and make sure every game is just a normal game,” Saleh said, covering again.

Saleh said they got two productive days of work against the Falcons, reducing the need to see their starters in the game. The Jets were in a similar situation last year, and those memories are not pleasant.

They lost a defensive end Carl Lawson to a season-ending Achilles injury in joint practice against the Green Bay Packers, then played his starters in the following game. One of them, a linebacker Jarrad Davissuffered a significant ankle injury and was sidelined for two months.

“It was like a bloodbath,” Saleh said, recalling the trip to Green Bay.

The Jets have been wracked by injuries throughout the season as well, which may explain Saleh’s cautious approach. In Philadelphia, he decided at the last minute to rest key veterans, most notably Lawson, a linebacker. CJ Mosley and handle George Fant.

One potential problem area is the offensive line. As a result of Becton’s injury and the late arrival of Duane Brown, the starting five have yet to practice together. Brown, 36, who signed on Aug. 15, spent the entire week with the conditioning staff, working into football shape. He won’t play Monday night, which means the offensive line might not be together in a game setting until the opener.

security Jordan Whitehead said the joint practices were “like the preseason,” but acknowledged that actual game officials are also important.

“When you get into the game, it gets faster, so you definitely need some reps to get ready for the season,” he said. Another factor for Saleh: Monday Night Football.

“There’s tremendous value in this one. This one is different because it’s Monday Night Football,” he said. We’re such a young team and that’s what a lot of guys dream about.”

Saleh said the Monday Night Football stage creates an “enhanced environment” that he believes helps prepare the players for the intensity of the regular season.

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