Sources: Jets hopeful QB Zach Wilson avoided serious injury ahead of MRI

ByRich Cimini via ESPN logo
Saturday, August 13, 2022
ESPN

PHILADELPHIA -- New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson will have an MRI exam on his right knee Saturday, but the team is hopeful he avoided a season-ending injury, sources said Friday night after the team's preseason opener against the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Jets declined to provide any specifics, except to say Wilson's ACL is "supposed to be intact," coach Robert Saleh said. The early indications are that he reinjured his right PCL and that he might miss only a few weeks, sources told ESPN's Dianna Russini.

Wilson, the No. 2 overall pick in 2021, missed four games last season because of a sprained PCL in the same knee.

"I'm going to let the MRI play out and we'll figure it out [Saturday]," Saleh said after the Jets' 24-21 win.

It was a nightmare start to the preseason for Wilson and the Jets. On their second offensive series, Wilson's knee appeared to buckle in a noncontact injury as he scrambled out of the pocket. He limped to the locker room with 3:43 remaining in the first quarter.

"A lot of swear words," said Saleh, describing his reaction as he watched his quarterback leave the field.

Wilson was seen in the locker room after the game, walking with a pronounced limp. He wasn't made available to the media.

The Jets have three other quarterbacks on the roster -- primary backup Joe Flacco, Mike White and Chris Streveler. If Wilson has to miss the start of the regular season, he likely would be replaced by the 37-year-old Flacco. The Jets open against Flacco's first team, the Baltimore Ravens, whom he led to a Super Bowl championship in 2012.

"You guys know how I feel about Joe," Saleh said. "Everyone does, the whole world knows. Joe is a phenomenal football player. He's having a great camp and he has a lot of juice left in the tank."

Flacco was rested Friday night. White (10-for-20, 98 yards) and Streveler (6-for-9, 62 yards, two TD passes) handled the quarterback duties in Wilson's absence.

Wilson might have avoided the injury by running out of bounds or sliding. "One hundred percent," Saleh said. Wilson was flushed from the pocket by defensive end Tarron Jackson, who beat rookie right tackle Max Mitchell.

As he turned the corner, with rookie defensive tackle Jordan Davis in hot pursuit, Wilson tried to cut inside on rookie linebacker Nakobe Dean. That's when Wilson's knee appeared to give out.

"Just run your butt out of bounds," Saleh said. "He got a little greedy, he wanted to get more. It's a new sod, so it wasn't exactly as firm as you want it to be."

Wilson got up quickly, limping, but dropped to the turf in obvious pain. It was a replay of last season, Week 7, when he sprained his right PCL in a loss to the New England Patriots. He didn't require surgery. When he returned, he wore a knee brace for the rest of the season.

"It's going to be tough," wide receiver Corey Davis said. "That's our guy, that's our QB1, but we understand that injuries happen. We just have to pray that he's all right."

Wilson, who threw an interception in his first series, was in "good spirits," Saleh said. "He's frustrated obviously. He's as good as you could be in this situation."

The Jets have high hopes for Wilson in his second year, confident he will improve after a difficult rookie season. Their entire offseason was geared around Wilson. They upgraded the supporting cast with the belief it would elevate Wilson's game. This marked the team's second significant injury in a five-day span. On Monday, right tackle Mekhi Becton suffered a fractured kneecap in practice and is expected to be lost for the season. The Jets replaced him by signing Duane Brown.

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