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Mike White to get third straight start for Jets in place of injured Zach Wilson

Mike White of the Jets throws a pass

Mike White of the Jets throws a pass during the first half at Lucas Oil Stadium against the Colts on Nov. 4 in Indianapolis. Credit: Getty Images/Andy Lyons

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — The Jets are rolling with Mike White again for Sunday’s game against Buffalo, and maybe for the foreseeable future.

Coach Robert Saleh announced on Wednesday that White would be the starter and rookie Zach Wilson would continue to work his way back from a sprained right knee. But Saleh also left open the possibility that White would remain the Jets’ starting quarterback even when Wilson is fully healed.

Saleh said the quarterback situation would work itself out "organically.’ But if White continues to play well, the Jets may keep riding with him.

"Mike has done a phenomenal job in presenting the ability where you’re getting good football out of the quarterback," Saleh said. "It’d be one thing if you’re throwing out a quarterback who is just playing terrible and there’s nothing to learn from. It’s another thing when it’s a quarterback that’s giving you a clear blueprint on how this offense is supposed to be run."

This is a change from what Saleh said earlier in the week, as a quarterback controversy could now be brewing.

"I think it will all take care of itself," Saleh said on Wednesday. "Just got to let it play out."

It was obvious on Monday that Saleh was leaning toward giving White his third straight start this week, even with Wilson returning to practice. But Saleh also said if Wilson was fully healthy that the rookie quarterback would play against Buffalo.

On Wednesday, Saleh said Wilson is "not fully ready to go." Saleh also didn’t say he would regain his starting job when he is.

"I’m staying day-to-day on that," Saleh said.

White’s performance in a win over the Bengals and in two series last week before hurting his forearm against the Colts has the Jets at least reconsidering their initial plan of going back to Wilson when he’s ready.

Wilson was the No. 2 pick in the draft and the quarterback the Jets believe will eventually lead them to the playoffs. But there’s no denying that the offense has run better with White leading it than Wilson, who has thrown four touchdown passes and nine interceptions.

As much as the Jets want Wilson to get reps so he can develop and improve, it’s difficult to sit White if he’s playing well and moving the offense. Saleh said the No. 1 priority is doing what’s best for the organization and for every player to be successful on game days.

"We feel that Mike has proven throughout OTAs and training camp that he’s capable," Saleh said. "He did a wonderful job during the [Cincinnati] game, did a wonderful job in the first quarter of that Indianapolis game. He’s putting out good tape.

"There’s also that obligation of if he’s playing well and he’s doing the things that he needs to do, to give him that opportunity."

The Jets’ offensive coaches met with White and Wilson on Tuesday night and told them they would be going in this direction. Saleh said it gives Wilson extra time for his knee to heal. The Jets gave a two- to four-week timetable after Wilson suffered the injury on Oct. 24 in New England.

Wilson participated on a limited basis in practice on Wednesday. Saleh said Wilson would run the practice team this week, and he wouldn’t be active Sunday. Joe Flacco will probably be the backup against Buffalo, according to Saleh

White has earned another start. The unheralded quarterback, who spent the past two seasons on the Jets’ practice squad, threw for 405 yards and three touchdowns against the Bengals. Last week, he threw a touchdown pass in his second series before leaving with a forearm injury. Saleh said White has regained his strength and has no limitations.

White has been far more effective than Wilson. He’s thrown one more touchdown pass in 93 fewer attempts. White's’ passer rating is 95.9 compared ith Wilson’s 63.5.

"If Mike is playing phenomenal football, it is what it is," Saleh said. "You might call a controversy or not . . . We have the utmost confidence in Zach when he’s ready to play and he gets back on the football field that he’s going to do a phenomenal job. His talent is undeniable.

"There’s a great amount of growth that can happen whether he’s playing or not. Those are facts. It comes down to what’s best for the organization and the team. And that I’m very confident will happen organically."

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