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Muhammad Wilkerson will report to Jets training camp on time, source says

New York Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson after

New York Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson after losing to the Denver Broncos at MetLife Stadium on Sunday Oct. 12, 2014. Credit: Lee S. Weissman

Deal or no deal, Muhammad Wilkerson plans to show up for Jets training camp.

A source confirmed to Newsday that the fifth-year defensive lineman will be at the Florham Park, New Jersey, facility on Wednesday -- the official report date for all players.

Practice begins Thursday.

Although the 25-year-old Wilkerson skipped voluntary workouts and organized team activities because of stalled contract talks, he attended mandatory minicamp.

"If I have to play under my contract, then so be it," he told reporters on June 9.

Wilkerson has been seeking an extension since last season. He's under contract for this season, and the Jets could opt to franchise tag him in 2016, thereby keeping him under their control. He is set to earn $6.969 million this season, well below the going rate for top defensive ends.

During minicamp, the 2011 first-round pick said there was "no timeline" for a new deal, but he expressed confidence that he'd eventually get his long-term deal.

Wilkerson did, however, make it clear that he was "frustrated" by the stalled contract negotiations between the team and his agent.

"I thought that a deal would be made, but at the end of the day, it's a business and these things take time," he said.

Had Wilkerson chosen to skip training camp, he would have been subject to a $30,000-a-day fine, plus additional fines for missing preseason games.

Having Wilkerson in the fold is critical for the Jets, who have one of the top defensive lines in the league -- at least on paper. The unit, however, has its problems.

The talented line will be without defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson for the first four regular-season games because of a violation of the league's substance abuse policy. Though he'll be eligible to participate in all preseason practices and games, Richardson will miss the season opener against the Browns, followed by games against the Colts, Eagles and the division rival Dolphins in London.

Richardson's absence also will make Leonard Williams' transition to the NFL all the more crucial. The Jets selected the former USC star -- arguably the top prospect of this year's entire rookie draft class -- sixth overall in the first round April 30. At the time, Williams' selection raised questions about Wilkerson's long-term status with the team. But Wilkerson's value may become increasingly clear if Williams struggles during Richardson's absence.

In the meantime, Wilkerson continues to hope for a long-term deal with the Jets.

"I'm very confident that, hopefully, things will work out with myself and my agent and those guys get something worked out," he said in June.

Notes & quotes:The team signed wide receiver Austin Hill and released kicker Andrew Furney . . . Jets coach Todd Bowles underwent partial right knee replacement on July 6. Bowles, who was a safety for eight years in the NFL, is under no restrictions for training camp practice.

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