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Saturday's Game at Carolina Could Be Another Day of Rest for Many Jets Vets, Starters

At QB, Zach Wilson Starts, Tim Boyle Relieves, Aaron Rodgers Watches Again, but Battles Rage at Other Positions


The weeks leading up to the Jets' first two preseason games were significantly different. The games themselves may look similar.

The Jets' Saturday afternoon game against Carolina at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC, will kick off shortly after 4 p.m. ET. While their Hall of Fame Game was a Thursday night affair, the players will look familiar, with very few veterans and starters expected to line up for the Jets while head coach Robert Saleh and his staff again look hard at the second and third units on offense, defense and special teams.

"We're still installing our stuff," Saleh said from Spartanburg, SC, this week, talking about the Jets' practice as well as the game ahead. "You're just getting to do it against a different person, a different way of doing things, a different scheme. We're just trying to continue to get better, to be honest with you." Asked if any veterans could see action, Saleh offered a noncommital "We'll see."

That means that Aaron Rodgers will once again not make his playing debut in green and white, and probably will rest again against Tampa Bay next week. His Jets debut is still a possibility for the preseason finale at the Giants, but there are no guarantees. And that's OK with ARod.

"Oh, I don't care," Rodgers said about sitting out the Panthers and Bucs. "I haven't played in a while, and I'll be ready either way."

So that means Zach Wilson will get his second summer start Saturday and Tim Boyle will follow him in the second half.

Saleh said Wilson's first interception of training camp, thrown at Wednesday's joint session with the Panthers, probably bummed him out more than it did anyone else.

"He's been having a good camp," the coach said. "You're always going to hit a bump in the road, I don't care how good a quarterback you are. Just to see him bounce back and continue to get back on track on the road he's been on, I'm excited about his direction."

The battles rage all around the Jets' depth chart. One hot spot is left tackle, where Billy Turner and Max Mitchell have been rotating. Meanwhile, behind them and working his way back from his knee woes of the past two years, Mekhi Becton continues to impress.

"He had a block yesterday that was unbelievable. For him it's all about confidence right now," Saleh said, adding of Becton's play time vs. Carolina, "I'd like for him to push as far as he can."

On defense, young edge rushers will keep rotating in and out of the front four, LB Jamien Sherwood will get to show his progress working alongside C.J. Mosley and Quincy Williams for another game, and Tony Adams will again keep pressing June veteran signee Adrian Amos for the starter's spot alongside Jordan Whitehead in the deep middle.

Even though most Jets starters again will be wearing workout clothes on the sideline rather than game gear on the B of A turf, interior DL Al Woods, in his 13th NFL camp, advises Jets fans to maintain patience through the process.

"At this point in time," Woods said, "nobody on any team is ready to play yet. We're still building."

And no matter whether in SC or NC, NY or NJ, the Jets insist the Hard Knocks cameras around camp this summer are no big deal for them getting ready for Sept. 11 opening night at home against Buffalo.

"We have One Jets Drive, too," Saleh said about the award-winning in-house documentary series on his team. "Since I walked in here, there's been more cameras on the practice field than I've ever seen in my life, so it's been the same for me."

"This is the New York Jets, man. This is one of the biggest markets if not the biggest market in the world," said Turner, the veteran NFL tackle. "No one's worried about any extra attention."

Just the usual amount of attention will do fine to get the Jets ready over the next month for the Bills.

See photos of the Jets on the field in Spartanburg, S.C. for joint practice with the Carolina Panthers.

Game Notes
The Jets are 1-1 in their preseason meetings with the Panthers. ... The Jets prevailed, 9-3, at Bank of America in 2010, then lost a primetime game on NBC to the Panthers, 17-12, at MetLife Stadium in 2012. ... The Jets outscored the Panthers in those games, 21-20, with all their points coming on field goals (six by Nick Folk, one in '12 by Josh Brown). ... The preseason win at Carolina was ugly and the Jets' only regular-season win at the Panthers was even uglier, leading first-year HC Herm Edwards to dub it "the Shrek Game," an ugly 13-12 Jets win in Game 7 of the 2001 season.

The Jets have won 5 consecutive preseason afternoon games, beginning with the 1992 Hall of Fame Game win over the Eagles. .... After going 18 preseasons without an afternoon opening kickoff, this will be the third straight summer with a day game. ... They won at Green Bay 23-14 on a Saturday afternoon in '21 and 24-16 at home vs. the Falcons on a Monday night last season. ... This game will mark the first time the Jets have played preseason afternoon games in three straight preseasons since 1969-75.

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