SEPTEMBER 30: Wilson is officially off the Jets’ injury report, as noted by NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter). The news confirms that he will indeed make his 2022 debut on Sunday against the Steelers.
SEPTEMBER 28: Zach Wilson received medical clearance after his rehabilitation from arthroscopic knee surgery, Robert Saleh announced Wednesday. This is likely to precede a return to action Sunday.
Last year’s No. 2 overall pick will make his return to the Jets’ starting lineup if no setbacks occur in practice this week, Saleh added. Although Joe Flacco led the team to a Week 2 win and Mike White still has support from a sect of Jets fans, Wilson returning in Week 4 has been the team’s plan from the start.
Considering the injury issues that have affected Wilson’s career thus far, it represents a positive development the second-year passer is tracking toward returning on time. The Jets did not place Wilson on IR, so no roster move will need to be made if/when Wilson suits up against the Steelers.
Wilson sustained a meniscus tear and a bone bruise during the Jets’ preseason opener; he underwent successful surgery days later. The August set back has run the BYU product’s NFL absence count to seven games. Wilson missed four games because of a knee injury last season.
While Flacco has been asked to dial up high-volume passing outings during a 1-2 Jets start, Wilson’s injury effectively put the team’s blueprint on hold. This offseason centered around further equipping the team’s new franchise-QB hopeful. The Jets chased just about every receiver caught up in trade rumors and ended up drafting Garrett Wilson at No. 10 overall. That move came after New York signed free agent guard Laken Tomlinson. The Jets later drafted Breece Hall to bolster their backfield.
One obvious issue ahead of this Zach Wilson re-emergence: the tackle situation. Injuries have led the Jets astray at both tackle spots. George Fant now joins Mekhi Becton and Duane Brown on IR. Fant and Brown are not out for the season, so the team’s preferred tackle configuration still has a chance of surfacing around midseason. Fant, who has been battling a knee injury throughout the season, is shut down until at least Week 8. This development leaves veteran backup Conor McDermott and fourth-round rookie Max Mitchell in place as Wilson’s tackles against the Steelers on Sunday, though the Jets did poach Cedric Ogbuehi off the Texans’ practice squad and add Mike Remmers to their P-squad. Remmers, who has mostly played right tackle as a pro, is expected to be promoted to the 53-man roster soon.
Becton’s injury and subsequent wide receiver absences affected Wilson’s rookie year, but Sam Darnold‘s replacement has plenty to prove as a pro. Wilson, who rocketed onto the first-round radar after a strong junior year for a BYU team (a Division I-FBS independent) that faced a higher-than-usual number of mid-major programs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ranked 31st in QBR in 13 rookie-year starts. Only Justin Fields came in below him. The Jets will hope their offseason additions can help Wilson progress. Now that he is on track to be back, that will be the rebuilding team’s central storyline.