FLORHAM PARK, NJ — While all signs point to Joe Flacco as the New York Jets’ season opener, coach Robert Saleh declined to rule out Zach Wilson, who underwent arthroscopic knee surgery in Los Angeles on Tuesday.
“I don’t know if I have an opinion on that,” Saleh said on Thursday, commenting on whether he expects Flacco to start against the Baltimore Ravens in the opener — his first public comments since Wilson’s lawsuit. “If Zach is ready to play, he will be Week 1’s starter. If he’s not, Joe will. That’s no secret.
“We assume what Zach looks like, how he feels, how he moves, what the doctors tell us. When that moment comes, he steps on the field.”
Wilson flew back from Los Angeles on Wednesday night and was back at the team facility Thursday morning. He is “already walking” and looking forward to starting his rehab, Saleh said.
The calendar is working against Wilson, who tore his meniscus and bruised his bones last Friday night in a preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Jets open the season in 24 days against the Baltimore Ravens. The original time frame was two to four weeks, and no additional damage was discovered in the arthroscopy, sources said.
But the Jets plan to be careful with their sophomore quarterback, who received three weeks of training last season before returning to the lineup after spraining his PCL in the same knee — which was a non-surgical injury.
“We’re going to do him good to make sure he’s 100% healthy,” Saleh said.
While Wilson avoided an injury at the end of the season, the time lost will be a setback. He will miss preseason games against the Atlanta Falcons and New York Giants, as well as joint practice sessions against those teams.
Wilson, 23, the #2 overall pick in 2021, is an inexperienced quarterback who needs as many practice reps as possible. He struggled last season, losing 10 of 13 starts and throwing just nine touchdown passes with 11 interceptions.
“If you want to get good at football, you have to play football. You have to practice football,” said offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur. “Obviously that can’t happen for him. So he’s going and he’s going to attack it in the best way he can. He went through this last year unfortunately. He knows what to do, what to watch out for, what to do what to say and what to do in the meetings He will make the most of the situation, just as we all will.
“The show goes on, right?”
In Flacco, 37, the Jets have a 14-year veteran and Super Bowl XLVII MVP for the Ravens. But Flacco has struggled in recent years, losing 14 of his 16 starts. Next on the depth chart is Mike White (three career starts).