Zach Wilson’s absence from the field will be longer than originally anticipated.
New York Jets coach Robert Saleh told reporters Wednesday that the earliest Wilson is likely to return from a bone bruise and meniscus tear in his right knee is the team’s Week 4 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Oct. 2.
Wilson worked out earlier this week, his coach told reporters Monday, and there was hope he would be ready for Week 1, but now the former BYU quarterback is expected to miss the first quarter of the 2022 season.
“The earliest he’s going to be available is Pittsburgh. Just from everything we gathered over the last couple of days, it’s not going to change,” Saleh said.
“Sure I’m always going to leave that door open — you guys know me, I’m the eternal optimist — but we are going to make sure both mind and body are 110%, (that) we do right by him. Talking to doctors and everyone, it’s going to be that Pittsburgh week.”
Saleh said Wilson will not go on injured reserve to start the season — he would be eligible to return after four games if he went on IR.
“We don’t want him to miss practice time when he’s available for all that,” Saleh said.
“This week, he’s going to be off to the side with the trainers and then slowly part of his rehab schedule start implementing him back into practice over the next couple of weeks.”
Wilson, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft, suffered the injury during the team’s preseason opener in mid-August.
In Wilson’s absence, the Jets will go with veteran Joe Flacco at quarterback, Saleh confirmed Wednesday. New York opens the 2022 regular season against the Baltimore Ravens this Sunday.
Flacco has started five games for the Jets over the past two seasons in reserve work. The 15-year veteran who led the Ravens to a Super Bowl title nearly a decade ago has thrown for 41,269 yards and 227 touchdowns in his NFL career.
“Joe’s a pro,” Saleh said this summer, per Jets team writer Eric Allen. “He’s been there, he’s done that. He’s been a Super Bowl MVP, a world champion. He’s gotten the big contracts. He checks about all the boxes you can check.”
Wilson entered his second NFL season trying to improve from a rookie campaign where he went 3-10 as a starter while throwing for 2,334 yards, nine touchdowns and 11 interceptions.