When New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson left the field on Aug. 12 with a knee injury, many feared the second-year passer would miss the entire 2022 NFL season. There’s now a chance Wilson could start in the Week 1 opener against the Baltimore Ravens.
Days after undergoing surgery to trim the torn meniscus in his knee, Wilson is back at the practice facility. While he isn’t medically cleared to take part in any physical workouts, head coach Robert Saleh told reporters that Wilson is “locked in” with every meeting and is spending additional time with the coaching staff.
- Zach Wilson stats (2021): 56% completion, 2,334 yards, 9 TD, 11 INT, 69.7 QB rating
For now, Wilson can only watch practice from a distance as he currently can’t stand on his feet with the coaches for hours during practice. However, New York is increasingly confident it won’t need to make a ruling on the quarterback’s status until days before the regular-season opener against the Ravens.
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The Jets certainly feel no obligation to rush a decision. Joe Flacco is impressing the team as the fill-in quarterback, making sharp throws at practice and stepping up as a leader. Everyone is still holding out hope that Wilson eventually receives the medical clearance he needs to practice in time so he can play Week 1, but there are challenges ahead.
Will Zach Wilson start in Week 1?
It still feels overly optimistic to believe Wilson returns in Week 1. While he struggled as a rookie, he is still a player who the entire organization believes can be the face of its franchise. It means there is no incentive to rush Wilson back onto the field when it could either jeopardize his long-term health or greatly diminish his abilities.
According to Zack Rosenblatt of The Athletic, Wilson is still moving around “gingerly” when he walks and he is most often spotted either rehabbing with trainers or riding on a cart.
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While Wilson’s surgery was successful and it only required a minor of the meniscus, a bone bruise in the knee is also a significant problem. The injury takes time to heal and players who return from it earlier may experience diminished mobility and find it more painful to move around. Considering Wilson’s athleticism is a part of the reason he was drafted, New York must factor that into its decision.
Ultimately, the Jets will likely play it safe. Wilson is unlikely to play in the regular-season opener, but it shouldn’t surprise anyone if he is cleared to start in Week 2 against the Cleveland Browns.