FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – The Bengals will be at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, and so will Mike White. But the circumstances are a little different than the last time Cincinnati visited the Jets 11 months ago.
Then, White was making his first NFL start and responded in spectacular fashion, throwing for 405 yards and three touchdowns – and hearing fans chant his name – in a 34-31 upset of the future AFC champions.
This time, he will back up Joe Flacco, and is preparing for the not-too-distant time when Zach Wilson returns and White moves down to third on the depth chart.
White said that when people learn who he is, they often reference the events of last Halloween.
“It’s comes up a lot,” he told Newsday after practice on Friday. “It’s, ‘I remember watching that,’ or, ‘I was at the game and I was doing the Mike White chants.’ . . . So it’s cool.”
That being said, White has tried not to dwell on that remarkable day as he prepares for Sunday.
“When we watch film of last year for certain looks of plays we're installing, it does bring back a little bit of the memories,” he said. “But you have to turn the page. You can’t live in the past.”
Other than the victory, the most important thing White, 27, took out of last year’s experience was validation that he can do the job at this level.
“You always have confidence in yourself, but until you go out and do it, you can't really confirm it,” he said.
White’s next challenge will be when Wilson returns, presumably in a week or two, and there likely will be weeks when White does not dress.
“You can get caught up in, ‘Well, I'm not up on game day so I don't really have to focus,’” he said, “but that's when, one, coaches will see that, but two, you don't get better with that [attitude].
“So I think that's going to be a big challenge for me, to treat it as if I'm still a two, as if I can still play, because things happen so fast in this league.”
Speaking of which, White and the Cowboys’ Cooper Rush were teammates as Dallas backups in 2018. Now Rush is the Cowboys starter with Dak Prescott injured and will face the Giants at MetLife Stadium on Monday night.
White, Rush and their wives are close friends; Rush and his wife, Lauryn, were at the Whites’ wedding.
“As a dude, he’s awesome, a great guy,” White said. “As a quarterback, I think what makes Cooper Cooper is his command of the offense. He's very, very smart, very intelligent. He owns the offense.”
Rush made his first start for the Cowboys last season, beating the Vikings, 20-16, on the same day that White beat the Bengals.
“As a backup, whenever you see other backups get their shot, you're always rooting for them, because that's the life we live as backup quarterbacks,” White said.
“You’ve got to be ready, and then once you get your opportunity you can't let it pass you by, because that's how you get out of the league.”
Uzomah ready to face old friends
Tight end C.J. Uzomah said he is good to go after missing last week’s game against the Browns with a hamstring injury.
The free-agent pickup still is looking for his first catch as a Jet and would love to make an impact against the team he played with for his first seven NFL seasons.
“For me, it’s gonna be dope, man,” Uzomah told Newsday after practice. “I have nothing but respect for them. Like, those are my guys. I played with all of them, for the most part, except for the new guys. It’s going to be fun.
“This isn’t a hate game for me. I get to play against my friends. This is really cool.”
Facing the Browns was a “hate game” for Uzomah after seven years as a division rival. He said he was just now getting back his voice after screaming for his teammates in their come-from-behind, 31-30 victory.
“I was going psycho on the sideline,” he said.
Is Uzomah surprised the Bengals are 0-2? “I mean, yeah,” he said. “I think everybody is.”