Jets rookie QB Wilson out 2-4 weeks with sprained PCL

NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Jets will try to turn around their season without Zach Wilson for a few games.

The rookie quarterback has a sprained posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and will be sidelined two to four weeks, coach Robert Saleh confirmed after Wilson had an MRI on Monday.

Wilson was injured in the second quarter of New York’s 54-13 loss to New England on Sunday when he was hit by Patriots linebacker Matt Judon, who fell on the back of the quarterback’s legs after he threw an incomplete pass.

Wilson and the team said after the game the initial diagnosis was a sprained PCL, which was the best-case scenario for the hobbled quarterback as he avoided a more serious, potentially season-ending injury. Saleh said the Jets will gather more information during the week before deciding whether to place Wilson on injured reserve to see if he can return after two weeks or if he’ll be sidelined longer.

“He can still be very active in his rehab, active in his learning and keep pace with the install of the offense,” Saleh said. “And he’ll be back before you know it.”

The injury will keep Wilson out for at least the Jets’ game next Sunday at home against Cincinnati and their Thursday night game at Indianapolis on Nov. 4. New York is then home against Buffalo on Nov. 14 and Miami on Nov. 21.

Wilson said he heard a “pop” in his right knee when he was hurt, and he said after the game “it just kind of feels like something is off as far as just being loose or a little bit unstable a little bit.”

There was some initial concern the injury might have been more serious, but initial exams indicated it was likely a PCL injury and not a potentially season-ending situation.

“I’m hoping I can get in there and do what I can to come back as fast as possible, making sure everything’s good,” Wilson said after the game. “So, once we get these results, just hit the rehab and everything for long and just find out what I’m capable of doing and trying it back as fast as possible.”

Saleh downplayed the notion missing games can hurt Wilson’s overall progress.

“I don’t think it’s a setback,” Saleh insisted. “It’s always good to be able to step away and just watch the offense through the lens of another quarterback.”

Mike White made his NFL debut while replacing Wilson after the injury, going 20 of 32 for 202 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions. He is likely to fill in while Wilson is sidelined, with veteran Josh Johnson also on the practice squad.

“I believe 100% in Mike White. This whole team does,” running back Ty Johnson said. “We’ve got a guy who came in there and played his (butt) off.”

White is in his fourth NFL season, but hadn’t thrown a pass in a regular-season game. He was drafted by Dallas in the fifth round in 2018 out of Western Kentucky. White was waived by the Cowboys during final cuts the following summer, and the Jets signed him to their practice squad.

New York opted to not sign a veteran in the offseason to back up Wilson, instead having White and James Morgan compete for the job. The 35-year-old Johnson was signed during training camp, but he hasn’t played in an NFL game since 2018 with Washington.

White won the backup job and Morgan was since signed to Carolina’s practice squad. And now it appears White’s in line to start at least the next couple of games for the Jets while Wilson recovers.

“I’m confident in myself,” White said Sunday. “I’m mostly confident in the guys we have in that locker room, the leaders we have. The coaching staff, too. Have to make the corrections necessary and keep going and being professionals and working our tails off and trying to get this thing going.”

The Jets are 1-5 under Saleh and their offense under coordinator Mike LaFleur is struggling mightily. New York has yet to score a point in the first quarter of any game this season, the first team to be held scoreless in the opening period over its first six games since the 2008 Detroit Lions, who went 0-16.

Wilson had an up-and-down first six games, throwing for just four touchdowns while tying Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes for the NFL lead with nine interceptions. He has completed just 58% of his passes, ranking second worst among quarterbacks with at least five starts with only Chicago’s Justin Fields — a fellow rookie — worse at 57.3%.

Wilson, the No. 2 overall pick, now will have to watch from the sideline as he heals.

“There’s nothing like playing,” LaFleur said. “That’s where you gain the most experience. … From a positive side, to spin it, these next however many weeks he’s out, he’ll be able to kind of sit back, go back, regroup, look at the last six games — what did you do well, where do we need to continue to progress both as an offense and as a quarterback?”

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