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Jets HC Robert Saleh: 'It's Next-Man-Up Mentality'

TE C.J Uzomah: ‘Great Opportunity’ for QB Zach Wilson


A day after receiving the news that Aaron Rodgers would need surgery on his torn Achilles tendon, the message from head coach Robert Saleh and his players was the same: As unfortunate as the circumstances appear, it's a short week ahead of Sunday's visit to Texas to play the Dallas Cowboys -- and there's important work to do.

"I don't know if there's anything to say," Saleh said. "It sounds clichéd, but it's a next-man-up mentality and nobody cares. You lost a player, Sunday's coming and we have to put our best foot forward to be successful. It's a harsh part of the business, but the guys expect that."

To a man, players like defensive captain C.J. Mosley, center Connor McGovern, TE C.J. Uzomah and the team's most-recent addition, RB Davlin Cook, said they believe the team retains its determination to excel while also having confidence and belief in QB Zach Wilson, who took over from Rodgers on Monday night and led the Jets to an overtime victory over the Bills.

"The big thing is Zach was awesome in OTAs and training camp," Uzomah said. "We saw his composure when something bad happened [an interception Monday night], but he threw a TD and we scored three times. It's a great opportunity for Zach.

"What keeps coming back to me, when you think about it, just be consistent, come in the building and we should all be ourselves, attack each day. There's going to be highs and lows through the season and it's important to stick together as a team. We're going to be all right."

Saleh's message to his players and the team's fans is that there is no quit and no lack of confidence.

"Everyone's in really great spirits," Saleh said on Wednesday. "I'll speak for the locker room. Everyone believes in themselves, and we believe we have a really good football team. As I've said before, we've got a championship defense. We've got great skilled guys on offense. We've got an O- line that's continuing to gel. We've got a lot of faith in Zach [Wilson]. I think people forget that he was 5-1 before the bye week [last season] and before our offense, half the offense [RB Breece Hall and OL Alijah Vera-Tucker included] was decimated with injuries from a year ago. So, I got a lot of faith in the group that we got."

McGovern, who said he was standing next to Saleh on the sideline Monday night when the coach found out the potential extent of Rodgers' injury, added that the short week ahead of facing Dallas means tuning out any outside noise.

"As unfortunate as it is, you can't dwell on it," McGovern said. "We have to focus on what we've got to do to beat the Cowboys. Sure everyone is saying whatever they're saying, but we're not believing it. We know we're ready to roll, we have an incredibly talented team, we have all the talent to make the run -- same run we talked about at the beginning."

See the Jets back on the field for Wednesday's practice to start off Cowboys week.

The same talent that surrounded Rodgers -- whether "homegrown" young players like WR Garrett Wilson, CB Sauce Gardner or O-linemen Vera-Tucker and Mekhi Becton or new veteran additions like WR Allen Lazard and RB Davlin Cook -- the same guys now surround Wilson.

"He's going to play his game, come in the huddle with a lot of confidence, ready to deliver," Cook said. "There's no panic in him, the past is the past. We got to rock out with him and be better around him, and I feel like we will. As a runner in the room, we got can take a lot of pressure off Zach. I think the ground game is in good hands.

"We're going to put the ball in Zach's hands and let him do what he does. It's Zach's team, so let's go and try to win."

As shocking as the injury was to Rodgers, only four plays into his career with the Green & White, Mosley said that the Jets played on, and played on to victory. He said there was no letdown then and doesn't expect a letdown on Sunday and beyond.

"I think it showed and the perfect example was Monday, most of the air came out of the crowd," Mosley said. "We have to keep playing, [injuries] are a part of football. Everyone at some point, if you play long enough, gets injured."

He added: "It's all about confidence and playing together. We haven't changed our mindset."

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