FLORHAM PARK, NJ – Mike White will make his first NFL start Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals, New York Jets coach Robert Saleh confirmed Wednesday. The status of his new endorsement, Joe Flacco, is uncertain.
Flacco, acquired Monday in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles, was not in practice Wednesday. He was excused for a personal reason, will not report to the facility until Friday and may be inactive for Sunday’s game. He’s virtually participating in meetings, according to the Jets, who said they knew about Flacco’s personal problem when the trade took place.
It’s been an eventful few days for the reeling Jets (1-5), from Zach Wilson’s knee injury to the Flacco trade and questions about Flacco’s absence. The only certainty is that White, a former practice team player, will face the Bengals (5-2) at MetLife Stadium.
“Mike has done a great job and has earned the right to play Sunday and show what he’s capable of,” said Saleh, who however would not commit to White beyond this week.
Wilson is expected to miss two to four weeks due to a PCL sprain.
White, who made his regular season debut in Sunday’s 54-13 loss to the New England Patriots, received strong praise from Saleh on Monday. But a few hours later, the Jets traded a 2022 sixth-round conditional pick for Flacco, raising questions about his immediate plan.
A source said the 36-year-old Flacco was hired as a backup, the position he held last season with the Jets. Still, the timing was odd, considering they had decided a few months ago not to have an experienced backer. They said day laborer Josh Johnson, 35, on the practice team, would provide experience in the quarterback room, advising Wilson and White. Apparently they thought better of it. Due to Flacco’s late arrival, the Jets may have no choice but to activate Johnson to be the backup on Sunday. Saleh sent a mixed message.
“Josh will be awake this week and will be ready if he has to step in,” Saleh said, noting that Flacco would be inactive. Moments later, Saleh backed off, saying they will take it day by day and assess the situation after Flacco’s practices on Friday.
“We are assuming the worst, okay?” Saleh said, explaining the rationale for the exchange. “We’re still trying to make sure the quarterback is exactly where we need it. Obviously, Zach got hurt and an opportunity came and it was good, so we took it.”
Saleh said they always want to have three healthy quarterbacks. There’s a chance Wilson landing on injured reserve, which would mean three games on the bench. The Jets will make that decision at the end of the week.
They professed their faith in White, 26, who has been cut three times by the Jets and once by the Dallas Cowboys, who drafted him in the fifth round from western Kentucky in 2018. In Sunday’s reliever role , completed 20 of 32 passes. for 202 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.
“We have all the confidence in the world in Mike,” offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur said.
At least the Jets are getting healthier on defense. Center linebacker CJ Mosley, who missed last week with a hamstring injury, is expected to play. Linebacker Jarrad Davis, who suffered a severe ankle sprain in the preseason, returned to practice and could be activated for the game.