FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – See you in Pittsburgh, Zach.
Robert Saleh announced on Wednesday that Zach Wilson won’t return from his knee injury until at least Week 4 when the Jets play in Pittsburgh.
This news was surprising considering Saleh said on Monday that “it’s possible” that Wilson could recover in time face the Ravens on Sunday at MetLife Stadium
Saleh said Wilson didn’t have any setbacks. He’s just “not quite ready” to play yet. Veteran Joe Flacco will lead the Jets against his former team on Sunday and for rest of September. Wilson is out until at least Oct. 2.
“The earliest he’s going to be available is Pittsburgh,” Saleh said. “That’s from everything we’ve gathered over the last couple of days. Now can it change, sure. I’m always going to leave that door open. You know me, I’m the eternal optimist.
“We are going to make sure that both mind and body are 110 percent, make sure we do right by him. We feel like talking to the doctors and everyone it’s going to be that Pittsburgh week.”
Wilson suffered a bone bruise and torn meniscus in his right knee in the Jets’ Aug. 12 preseason game in Philadelphia. The second-year quarterback underwent arthroscopic surgery to trim the meniscus on Aug. 16.
Monday was the first time Wilson started doing on-field work in nearly a month. Speaking publicly for the first time since getting hurt, Wilson said he’s able to drop back and throw and “starting to get into” running.
“I think for what the injury was, I’m very optimistic to be able to get back and still play football the way I want to this year,” said Wilson, who later added, “I feel like I’m in a good spot. I’m happy with where I am.”
Saleh said the decision was made late last night and early this morning to sit Wilson the first three weeks of the seasons. Wilson said he knew long before then.
“Since I walked out of surgery,” Wilson said.
Wilson later backtracked. He said there was no real timeline given and that the doctors just told him the bone bruise, particularly, is going to need time to heal.
“The doctors say this is something you need to be careful on so that it’s not a long-term injury,” Wilson said. “It was never a weeks’ kind of thing. It was never, ‘This is what the goal is here.’ You got to give it time to heal and you kind of go one week at a time.”
The Jets were always going to be cautious with Wilson. They have said that Wilson would not return until he was 100 percent healthy and able to go through a full week of practice. Saleh said “there was always that hope” that Wilson play could this week
“After all the information gathering it’s not worth the risk in terms of getting him out there,” Saleh said. “There’s the knee element, there’s the mind element, there’s the practice element. There’s just a whole lot of things other than the knee.”
It’s now possible that Wilson could miss the first four weeks, which is the minimum to be placed on short-term injured reserve. But Saleh said the Jets never considered putting Wilson on IR because they believe they will be able to practice before then.
Wilson will be off to the side this working with trainers. Saleh said in Wilson’s updated rehab schedule they will “start implementing him back into practice in the next couple of weeks.”
“We were never going to put him on the field until he got clearance from the doctors,” Saleh said. “They were pretty adamant about what his rehab schedule needs to be moving forward.”
Wilson said it was ‘frustrating’ and he was “pissed at myself” that he got hurt in the preseason. It was a non-contact injury that he suffered while trying to end a play with his legs. Saleh and offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur both said Wilson should have run out of bounds. Wilson disagrees.
“I don’t think I will play any differently,” Wilson said. “People will say you should have gone out of bounds or should have slid, but it was a non-contact injury. The guy didn’t tackle me. If the guy hit me and I got injured that’s one thing. If I can't even run and cut without getting hurt, then what am I doing? I got to take care of myself and put myself in a better situation there. Sometimes unfortunate stuff like that happens."
Saleh doesn’t want Wilson to entirely change. He said Wilson’s ability to make plays on the move is “his superpower.” But Saleh still wants him to go out of bounds or slide to try and avoid injury.
Saleh also put to bed any controversy regarding who would be the quarterback when Wilson is ready to return if the offense is performing well under Flacco.
“Zach’s our future,” Saleh said. “When Zach’s healthy, he’s rolling.”