FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Zach Wilson was back at the Jets’ complex Thursday after Tuesday’s detour to an operating room in Los Angeles.
“He’s already walking,” Robert Saleh said. “He’s in really good spirits, and he’s chomping at the bit to get to rehab.”
So when will the second-year quarterback be playing again?
Dr. Neal ElAttrache didn’t find any additional damage in Wilson’s right knee during the arthroscopic procedure. The original timeline had been two to four weeks.
Can Wilson go from a meniscus tear and bone bruise suffered in the first preseason game Aug. 12 to an operation Aug. 16 to starting Week 1 against Baltimore Sept. 11?
Or will it be Joe Flacco behind the center against the Ravens?
Saleh couldn’t give definitive answers.
“If Zach is ready to go, he’s going to be the Week 1 starter,” the Jets coach said. “If not, then Joe will. That’s no secret. We’re going to take it by how Zach looks, how he feels, how he moves, what the doctors tell us, and whenever that moment is, he’s stepping on the football field.
“We’re going to make sure we do right by him by making sure he’s 100% healthy."
In the interim, there’s that rehab. There are also the chats with offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur and quarterbacks coach Rob Calabrese. And there are those mental reps at training camp.
“They’re priceless,” Saleh said. “It’s the only thing that he can do, meetings, walk-throughs, not that he’s going to get walk-through reps right now with just being fresh off the surgery, but being able to go back and watch practice, watch the walk-throughs, ask questions of the quarterbacks, talk with LaFleur, talk with Calabrese, and absorb as much information.
“Unfortunately, he’s been through this before. Last year, he had to go through the same thing for four weeks [after spraining the same knee]. It’s going to be the same process now. He had a lot of great growth last year and I expect him to have continued growth this year.”
One area of growth would be learning not to repeat what he did in the first quarter against Philadelphia last Friday when he got hurt trying to cut for extra yards on a scramble instead of living to fight another down by running out of bounds.
LaFleur has passed that message his way.
“These guys are competitors,” LaFleur said. “What I said to Zach was, ‘Even if this was the first game in the first quarter, you still wouldn’t want to do that.’ Now, you’re in the fourth quarter of a game on a third-and-5 and you’re scrambling to go make a play to go win a football game, that’s a whole different deal.
“But because of what happened, he’s going to learn from that one, and we just have to keep reminding him.”
Saleh was relieved that no additional issues were discovered in the knee.
“I’m not thinking about the team, I’m not thinking about me,” Saleh said. “It’s about him, and any player that gets hurt where you feel like there’s worry that their season might be over.”
So Flacco has taken the keys to drive the first-team offense for now. The 37-year-old is 0-5 starting for the Jets the past two seasons. He has generally looked sharp in camp.
“He’s a really good player,” right tackle George Fant said. “We’ve played with him before … So we know what Joe brings to the table. He knows the system. So [we’re] very confident in Joe’s game.”