FLORHAM PARK, NJ — The New York Jets can exhale.
Quarterback Zach Wilson’s arthroscopic knee surgery Tuesday was deemed a success, with no surprises from the original diagnosis, sources told ESPN.
Wilson was diagnosed with a meniscus tear and bone bruise last Friday night after a non-contact injury against the Philadelphia Eagles, with sources initially saying recovery would take two to four weeks. There was no updated timetable, but the Jets avoided the nightmare scenario — a season-end injury to their sophomore quarterback.
The meniscus just needed a “finish,” a source said — as the Jets expected. They were optimistic about the extent of the damage, but they refrained from making definitive statements until the arthroscopy, which was performed in Los Angeles by Dr. Neal ElAttrache.
The Jets are poised to start Joe Flacco in the season opener against the Baltimore Ravens, the team he led to the Super Bowl title after the 2012 season.
The Jets don’t want to chase Wilson back onto the field, with sources stressing they won’t play him until he’s 100%. That he injured the same knee last season — a sprained PCL that cost him four games — is a factor. He will probably practice for at least two weeks before being allowed to play, so the calendar is working against him regarding opening day.
Wilson, who was drafted second overall in 2021, went down in the second heat of the preseason opener. He scrambled out of the bag and tried to gain extra yards instead of going out of bounds. When he made a cut on the inside, his knee gave way and he plunged into the grass. He immediately left the game. The next day, the MRI revealed the bone bruise and meniscus tear. Wilson opted for a second opinion and traveled to Los Angeles.
In other injury news, the Jets put the correct tackle Mekhi Becton (broken kneecap) on the injured reserve, ending his season. To replace him, they signed the left tackle Duane Brown and moved George Fant to the right tackle.
The Jets focused their entire offseason on Wilson and added players around him, so a season-end injury would have been a devastating blow. Still, coach Robert Saleh called it “a setback because he misses an incredible opportunity to get reps, to play other defenses.”
Wilson will miss the preseason games against the Atlanta Falcons and New York Giants. The Jets are also holding back joint training sessions with those teams, which Saleh says is invaluable.
Flacco, 37, has looked sharp in practice for the past three days, but he hasn’t had much success as a starter. He hasn’t won a start (with the Denver Broncos) since 2019, losing 14 of his last 16, dating back to 2018 — his last season with the Ravens. Saleh said he has confidence in Flacco and Mike White, who will move into the second heat.
“It’s comforting and I’ll be shouting out Mike White too,” Saleh said. “I think we have three starting quarterbacks. Joe has proven himself a winner all along. I know his record hasn’t been that great here. I think he’s 0-5 or something like that… (but ) he has been efficient. Even in our Miami game last year when he started he was very efficient. We have all the confidence in the world in him to get the job done.”