TODAY'S PAPER
Good Evening
Good Evening
SportsFootballJets

Zach Wilson embraces facing Sam Darnold, Panthers in Week 1

May 27, 2021; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New

May 27, 2021; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) during New York Jets OTA practice at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Noah K. Murray/Newsday Credit: Noah K. Murray/Newsday/Noah K. Murray

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – Zach Wilson likes that his NFL debut will be against the Carolina Panthers, who just so happen to have former Jets quarterback Sam Darnold running their offense now.

"My first reaction was typical NFL, right?" Wilson said. "They love to bring the fans and I love it."

Wilson said his excitement level has nothing to do with playing against Darnold. But the NFL knew this would be an intriguing matchup of the Jets' former franchise quarterback facing off against the new one.

Darnold spent three seasons as the Jets quarterback. They traded him to Carolina a few weeks before the draft when they decided they were going to use the No. 2 pick on Wilson.

"It’s not like I’m so pumped because it’s Sam," Wilson said. "I’m excited because the Panthers are a great team and it’s a great challenge for us. It has nothing to do with him.

"He’s a great player and he’s going to handle his own. It has nothing to do with the fact that he was here in New York and now he’s there. I’m happy for him. What a great opportunity for him to put some life in his career. I’m sure he’s excited about it and I’m excited for him."

Backing corners

Robert Saleh said the Jets currently are not looking to add seasoned pros to their young cornerback group because "a veteran will probably just eat up reps and not give us an ability to look at these all these young guys who are just starving for an opportunity."

The cornerback room includes Bless Austin, Bryce Hall, Justin Hardee, Corey Ballantine, Javelin Guidry, Lamar Jackson and rookies Michael Carter II, Jason Pinnock and Brandin Echols.

"There’s a lot of work to be had," Saleh said. "We got a lot of time."

'Awesome' atmosphere

Saleh was in the Garden for the Knicks’ Game 2 victory over Atlanta Wednesday night, and was seen jumping up with his arms raised after an Obi Toppin dunk. Saleh called the atmosphere ‘awesome" and hopes to create something similar at MetLife Stadium.

"What you heard at the Garden was phenomenal," Saleh said. "We’re excited about all the work that we’re putting in and we’re excited to get the opportunity to earn the same response at MetLife Stadium and let the fans light that place up."

Two-minute drill

Saleh said the Jets have had "well over 80" players for OTAs. Among the players not at Thursday’s voluntary workout were safety Marcus Maye, defensive end Carl Lawson, left tackle Mekhi Becton and receivers Jamison Crowder and Denzel Mims. … Alex Lewis agreed to a reworked contract that dropped his base salary from $5.8 million to $3 million, a league source confirmed. This gives Lewis, who was a candidate to be waived after the Jets drafted left guard Alijah Vera-Tucker, the chance to stick. Lewis will be a free agent after this season.

New York Sports