New York Jets quarterback Mike White has not been cleared for contact, which means former first-round pick Zach Wilson will get the start against the Detroit Lions Sunday, Jets head coach Robert Saleh announced Friday.
Lions head coach Dan Campbell said they've been preparing for this possibility all week, so they'll be ready for Wilson Sunday in a critical game for both teams to keep their playoff hopes alive.
"We kind of had an idea," Campbell said. "So, we're ready. He (Wilson) is a competitor like most of players in this league. He'll want to go out there and play well. He's certainly talented and they will have a good game plan designed for him where he can succeed and get it to their weapons. They are going to try to take the pressure off him as much as possible and just let him be him and use his talents and skills."
White suffered a rib injury during Sunday's loss to Buffalo. He practiced this week, but has not been cleared for game action. Wilson will get all the practice reps Friday and Saturday.
Wilson has been inactive the past three weeks after being benched following the Jets' 10-3 loss Nov. 20 to New England. Wilson was moved up to the No. 2 quarterback spot behind White just this week.
Prior to being benched, Wilson had gone 5-2 as the starter but had completed just 55.6 percent of his passes with four touchdowns and five interceptions.
Wilson does offer a little more athleticism. It's something Lions linebackers coach Kelvin Sheppard said his guys have to be aware of.
"We've been preparing pretty much all week," Sheppard said of Wilson playing quarterback. "The good thing about them is they have a system there and they're going to run what they're going to run regardless of who the quarterback is.
"The mobility element does factor in. There's things we've had issues with this year as far as these mobile quarterbacks, so that's obviously something we have to deal with in the game. But our guys have progressed and gotten better and better as far as caging in these mobile quarterbacks. So, our plan isn't going to change whatsoever."
ALL FIVE BACK
The gang is back together again in the Lions' offensive line room with right guard Evan Brown back from an ankle injury that prevented him from playing the last three weeks.
Kudos to Kayode Awosika, Dan Skipper and Logan Stenberg for holding down the fort in Brown's absence but it's good to have Brown back Sunday against a very good Jets defensive front.
"It is big," Campbell said of getting Brown back. "Especially those five I think it's a lot like your o-line and your secondary all playing together I think is big. To have the continuity and those guys communicate and working with each other, understand where your leverage is at and all those things, I think is big. So, to get him back is a – that gives us a little bit of a boost for sure."
View photos from Detroit Lions practice on Thursday, December 15, 2022.
Sheppard was one of the first people on Twitter to congratulate Alex Anzalone for reaching the 100-tackle mark for the first time in his career. As a former linebacker, Sheppard knows it's no easy feat.
"I know myself personally playing eight years I had a 100-tackle season one time," Sheppard said. "That's not as easy as some people might think because you play linebacker, you're going to make a lot of tackles. No. Not the way the NFL is structured especially nowadays with the high-powered defensive linemen. For him to do that in 13 games, I mean, he's been playing his butt off down in and down out dating back to training camp."
Anzalone is the only player in the league with at least 100 tackles, one sack, one interception, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. He's having the best season of his six-year career.
"He's really reaping the benefits of a lot of self-awareness things that he had to look in the mirror at this offseason," Sheppard said. "He looked at it head on and he was willing to put the work in."
Sheppard praised Anzalone for the job he's done all year helping rookie Malcolm Rodriguez develop and allowing him to play fast. Anzalone gets the car started for the defense, as Sheppard likes to say. He makes sure everyone is in the right spots, makes the checks, and is one of the leaders for a unit playing much better football of late.
Campbell on the 49ers' win over the Seahawks on Thursday night, which helped Detroit's playoff chances with the Lions trailing Seattle (7-7) in the NFC standings:
"I looked at the final on the way home. I did. I just wanted to see what the final was, so I was – that was nice. But I didn't watch the game."