"It's like the first day of school, I'm ready to go another 18 weeks," the Jets' Robert Saleh said Wednesday morning after clearing the NFL's Covid protocols.
Saleh, the team's rookie head coach, has been mostly confined to a hotel room close to the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center since he tested positive for the coronavirus last week. He was not on the sideline for his team's 26-21 victory over Jacksonville this past Sunday, ceding his duties to tight ends coach Ron Middleton.
He returned to the building on Wednesday morning saying "I got cleared around 7 o'clock last night and by then I was already knee deep in work and it wasn't worth packing up all the equipment."
Saleh dove right into preparations for the game against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-4) at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, the final home game of the 2021 NFL season for the Green & White (4-11).
In addition to Saleh's return, the Jets announced that a near-platoon of players who were on the league's reserve/Covid-19 have also cleared the protocols and are permitted to return to practice (though team meetings remain virtual).
On defense, that list includes DL Folorunso Fatukasi, Tanzel Smart (practice squad) and Hamilcar Rashed; CB Michael Carter II and Lamar Jackson (practice squad); LB Noah Dawkins (practice squad) and Hamsah Nasirildeen. On offense, QB Joe Flacco and TE Kenny Yeboah have been cleared to resume practice.
Saleh said that TE Tyler Kroft; CB Bryce Hall and Ken Webster; and DL Quinnen Williams all are only 50-50 to clear the protocol before Sunday's game.
In addition, S Elijah Riley, who was in the concussion protocol after sustaining a head injury at Miami, is available to face the Bucs. WR Jamison Crowder (calf) did not practice on Wednesday and DL Sheldon Rankins (knee) was taking his normal day off.
Finally, WR Elijah Moore, who has been on Injured Reserve with a quad injury, but was also on the Covid list, has not been activated from IR, Saleh said, "but should be off the Covid list."
Asked if he's ready for a return to "normalcy," Saleh said: "I don't know about that. Things are still virtual, but what I love is the character in the locker room and the way we've been attacking things, keeping spirits up, meetings active. There's a tremendous mindset, locked in. Normalcy? Hopefully it's around the corner. The locker room is in a good place and ready to attack."
See the Top Practice Images from Wednesday of Bucs Week at 1 Jets Drive