Head coaches around the league are approaching the preseason differently than in previous years after the NFL went from four preseason games to three. Typically, the third preseason game would often be referred to as a dress rehearsal for the regular season, which meant the starters would receive extended playing time. The final game, however, usually meant limited, if any, action for the starters. Jets head coach Robert Saleh and his staff haven't decided on their approach.
"Joe [Douglas] and I were talking about that yesterday," Saleh said. "Cause half the league isn't playing anyone and the other half are playing them. And then there's young coaches not playing anybody but then the veteran coaches like [Bill] Belichick, [Mike] Tomlin and Andy Reid are playing their guys and it's like, 'what's right'?
"We got a ridiculously young team and they are growing and learning and all of these experiences are so important to them. I feel like they've gotten so much better from the first day of camp until now and to pull off now, I think we'd be doing them an injustice."
Even though rookie OL Alijah Vera-Tucker and rookie WR Elijah Moore returned to practice this week in the joint sessions against the Eagles, they're unlikely to play in the preseason finale Friday night. Rookie QB Zach Wilson, however, may and the rest of the starters may play, but for "no more than a half."
"I want to play [Wilson]," Saleh said. "I do, so we're talking about it. But right now, I'm leaning towards playing at least the starting offensive line, quarterback and a majority of the defensive payers."
Wilson's Reps Under Center
Wilson has been impressive in both of his preseason games. He played two series against the Giants and four against the Packers, completing 15 of 20 passes (75%) for 191 yards and 2 TDs without throwing an interception. The No. 2 overall pick out of BYU said he wants to play Friday against the Eagles.
"I've thought that the last couple games that I wish I could play the whole game," he said. "You don't want to get injured or anything before the season and put yourself in a bad spot. I'm not worried about that, but you know how it is with injuries across the board. I wish I could play more because the experiences, the learning the tempo of the game, the operation and everything is so good for us to see and to feel. Just getting used to it, you get more comfortable as you keep playing."
He added of playing in the preseason: "It's huge. It's honestly probably good for everyone no matter how long you've played to an extent. Obviously, you don't want guys getting injured, but for a quarterback, especially me, in college as a freshman you're seeing your defense every single day. And then you get to your first game in September and it's a brand new team, the speed is different and everything is thrown at you once.
"[In the NFL], you're able to kind to ease into it. We played against our defense and you get used to that. Then you have some joint practices and you get used to that and then you have some preseason games against different opponents. It's slowly preparing you for what it's going to be like in a real game and I think that's why it's so beneficial. Just kind of getting you ready and it shakes off all those nerves. You don't feel nervous to go out there and play."
See All of the Top Images from the Jets' Joint Practices with Philadelphia at 1 Jets Drive
General manager Joe Douglas, Saleh and the Jets have difficult decisions looming as all 32 clubs' rosters will be trimmed from 80 to 53 by Aug. 31. Friday's game will be the last time for players on the roster to make an impression on the field. Not only are they vying for a spot on the Jets, but the other 31 teams in the NFL. Saleh said before the Giants game he believes the most important aspect of the preseason is that players can display "the style they want to represent and all the different things that they want to showcase."