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Jets injury update: Why Zach Wilson hasn’t been named starter Week 4 vs. Steelers, more on George Fant

NJ.com 9/26/2022 Andy Vasquez, nj.com
New York Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner (1) participates in drills at during practice on Thursday, September 15, 2022 in Florham Park, N.J. © Andrew Mills/nj.com/TNS New York Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner (1) participates in drills at during practice on Thursday, September 15, 2022 in Florham Park, N.J.

The plan has not changed since Jets coach Robert Saleh announced it three weeks ago: second-year quarterback Zach Wilson is expected to return from his knee injury this weekend and start at the Steelers. But it won’t be official until Wilson is cleared by his doctors, and Monday afternoon Saleh said that hasn’t happened yet.

“We’re looking for confirmation,” Saleh said. “Once Zach’s doctors clear him, we’ll be ready to roll. But we can’t really define that until we get full clearance.”

Saleh said that the final word from the doctors is expected to come by the end of the day Tuesday. Translation: we should find out Wednesday if Wilson is good to go for the Steelers game.

New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh and quarterback Zach Wilson (2) during practice on Thursday, September 15, 2022 in Florham Park, N.J. © Andrew Mills/nj.com/TNS New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh and quarterback Zach Wilson (2) during practice on Thursday, September 15, 2022 in Florham Park, N.J.

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New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2, center) during practice on Thursday, September 15, 2022 in Florham Park, N.J. © Andrew Mills/nj.com/TNS New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2, center) during practice on Thursday, September 15, 2022 in Florham Park, N.J.

Wilson suffered a torn meniscus and a bone bruise to his right knee early in the Aug. 12 preseason opener against the Eagles. He had arthroscopic surgery on Aug. 16 to repair the torn mensicus.

The 23-year-old quarterback has been back at practice since Week 1 in a limited capacity. He has primarily done individual drills, without yet getting on the field for full team drill work. But Saleh previously said he would be comfortable with Wilson starting after only a week of full practice. And Monday he said that Wilson has been putting in extra work after practice to make sure he’s ready.

New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) gets a hug from linebacker Quincy Williams (56) during practice on Thursday, September 15, 2022 in Florham Park, N.J. © Andrew Mills/nj.com/TNS New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) gets a hug from linebacker Quincy Williams (56) during practice on Thursday, September 15, 2022 in Florham Park, N.J.

“At the end of every practice we have this thing called Flight School,” Saleh said, “where we take all the practice squad guys and the third string guys who don’t get as many team reps, because you’re so limited in the amount you can work [in practice] during the season. And we have a seven-on-seven period, so he’s been doing those seven-on-seven periods with all those guys and still getting the reps and working through drop back and progression and all the different things that we asked him to do.”

New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) smiles during practice on Thursday, September 15, 2022 in Florham Park, N.J. © Andrew Mills/nj.com/TNS New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) smiles during practice on Thursday, September 15, 2022 in Florham Park, N.J.

Saleh said last week that Wilson would get his job back as soon as he was healthy enough to play because he’s the future of the franchise. But it would have been a tougher decision had Joe Flacco played well against the Bengals on Sunday. Flacco did not play well, falling hard to earth in the 27-12 loss with four turnovers.

It won’t be easy for Wilson if he makes his debut against the Steelers as expected. They are known for being a heavy blitz team, and Wilson will have gone more than seven weeks without facing live action. But the sooner the Jets get Wilson back on the field the better, because the next 14 games will go a long way to determine if he’s the right quarterback to lead them into the future.

George Fant update

Starting left tackle George Fant left Sunday’s loss to the Bengals early in the third quarter because of an injury to his left knee that dates back to last year. The injury is going to be a day-to-day situation for Fant, and Saleh said there’s a chance he doesn’t play against Pittsburgh to let the knee heal a bit.

New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh during practice on Thursday, September 15, 2022 in Florham Park, N.J. © Andrew Mills/nj.com/TNS New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh during practice on Thursday, September 15, 2022 in Florham Park, N.J.

Saleh downplayed the possibility of placing Fant on injured reserve. But this is clearly going to be an issue all season because Fant couldn’t even get through training camp before the problems with the knee started to crop up.

Good news on Quincy Williams

Starting linebacker Quincy Williams suffered what appeared to be a serious lower leg injury in the loss to the Bengals. But it wasn’t as bad as initially feared.

“Quincy dodged a bullet,” Saleh said. “He’s dealing with a high-ankle sprain. It’s going to be a week-to-week thing with him.”

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Williams was spotted outside the Jets locker room Sunday afternoon in a walking boot on his left foot. High-ankle sprains typically take at least a month to heal. Every player is different, so it’s impossible to rule out a return before that in the coming weeks, but it’s extremely unlikely we’ll see Williams on the field Sunday against the Steelers.

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New York Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner (1) participates in drills at during practice on Thursday, September 15, 2022 in Florham Park, N.J. © Andrew Mills/nj.com/TNS New York Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner (1) participates in drills at during practice on Thursday, September 15, 2022 in Florham Park, N.J.

Andy Vasquez may be reached at avasquez@njadvancemedia.com.

©2022 Advance Local Media LLC. Visit nj.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) smiles as he loosens up before practice on Thursday, September 15, 2022 in Florham Park, N.J.

New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) smiles as he loosens up before practice on Thursday, September 15, 2022 in Florham Park, N.J.
© Andrew Mills/nj.com/TNS
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