Zach Wilson will ‘thrive’ from Jets’ absences

His top three receivers may be out. His starting offensive guards won’t play. But the Jets don’t expect that to hurt rookie quarterback Zach Wilson on Sunday against the Jaguars. 

“I think he’s in such a great space mentally, I think he’ll thrive from this,” said head coach Robert Saleh, who is expected to miss the game himself after testing positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday. 

Offensive guards Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and Alijah Vera-Tucker are on the reserve/COVID-19 list, and won’t be active. Receivers Corey Davis (core muscle) and Elijah Moore (quad) are on injured reserve, and Jamison Crowder is doubtful with a calf injury after not practicing this week. Still, Saleh doesn’t believe that will negatively impact his young quarterback. 

“Is it a little bit more difficult because of the lack of continuity with all the different pieces coming in and out of the lineup? Yeah, it’s difficult, but at the same time, his job is to do his best because, I promise, the guys who are getting the opportunity to play are going to give him everything they’ve got,” Saleh said. “If he’s worried about anything other than doing his job and getting the ball where it needs to go, then it could be a problem.” 

Jets interim coach Ron Middleton watches quarterback Zach Wilson at practice Friday.
Bill Kostroun/New York Post

The Jets believe Wilson is making progress despite underwhelming numbers, that he is making quicker decisions and starting to adjust to the speed of the game. 

“I think he’s starting to find that balance of playing within rhythm, but also going off script when the situation calls for it,” Saleh said. 

Offensive tackle George Fant (knee), cornerback Bryce Hall (non-COVID-19 illness), linebacker C.J. Mosley (back) and defensive linemen Sheldon Rankins (knee) and Quinnen Williams (shoulder) are all listed as questionable. They practiced fully on Friday. 

The coronavirus is hitting the Jaguars hard, too. They placed star pass-rusher Josh Allen, receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. and guard Ben Bartch on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Friday. Allen has 5.5 sacks, 60 tackles, nine tackles for loss and 12 QB hits in 14 games this season.