Jets’ Robert Saleh waffles on whether to play starters vs. Falcons

Whether or not the Jets play their starters Monday against the Falcons could depend on which side of the bed head coach Robert Saleh wakes up that morning.

Saleh sounded torn Saturday on whether to play the starters, turn the full game over to the backups or mix-and-match. The risk-reward of preseason games is not lost on the Jets, who withheld defensive stars C.J. Mosley and Carl Lawson based on Saleh’s last-minute decision last week, but still lost quarterback Zach Wilson to a knee injury.

“I wake up one day and I’m like, ‘OK they’re going to play.’ The next day I wake up and they’re not going to play,” Saleh said. “I think this one is different because it is ‘Monday Night Football’ and we’re such a young team that [for] a lot of guys, this is what you dream of.

“You never want to make a game bigger than it needs to be, but there’s still that human aspect in terms of how they grew up and how people view Monday night — and the fact that it’s the only game on TV [with] all their peers watching.”

One year ago, after losing Lawson to a season-ending torn Achilles tendon during joint practices against the Packers, the Jets still played their starters for most of the first half in Week 2 of the preseason. The Jets held a second joint practice Saturday with the Falcons — and that might be enough to convince Saleh to rest the starters, including quarterback Joe Flacco, who has stepped in for Wilson.

“Normally with these joint practices, you don’t want to play in a game because you feel like you’ve gotten a heavy workload,” Saleh said. “It’s like bloodshed this week. So far so good, as opposed to last year.”

Why even consider risking it?

“The biggest thing for me is it’s a great opportunity to give our guys,” Saleh said, “to go through the mental aspect of a heightened environment.”

Safety Jordan Whitehead praised the value of joint practices, but said “it speeds up when you get into the game, so you definitely need some reps to get ready for the season.”

LT Duane Brown, who agreed to terms with the Jets on Aug. 11 and joined the team Monday, still hasn’t practiced in team periods.

“Expecting Duane to be back to getting reps next week,” Saleh said of the 15-year veteran.

Is that enough time to be ready for the Sept. 11 regular-season opener?

“I think so,” Saleh said. “He’s in the meetings. He is going through all of the walk-throughs.”

The NFL issued a $10,609 fine to LB Quincy Williams for his late hit out of bounds on Eagles QB Jalen Hurts in their game last week, according to NFL Network.

“Some guys are deliberate, some guys aren’t, and I think Quincy is not a cheap-shot guy,” Saleh said earlier this week. “He made a mistake. We’ll talk about it in between series and talk about it in the film room afterwards, but he knows better.”

This content was originally published here.

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