Jets’ Robert Saleh on playing Aaron Rodgers – ‘Can’t coach scared’


FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — New York Jets coach Robert Saleh believes it’s in the best interest of the team to play quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the final preseason game, history and injury risk be damned.

“You can’t coach scared, you can’t play scared,” Saleh said Tuesday, confirming that Rodgers will start Saturday against the New York Giants. “You can slip out of your car and have something happen to you. Knock on wood, everyone will be fine.”

Rodgers, 39, who hasn’t played a preseason game since 2018, sat out the first three games. But now, with the season opener less than three weeks away, Saleh wants Rodgers to get acclimated to MetLife Stadium and its atmosphere before facing the Buffalo Bills on Sept. 11 at home.

The Jets have a history of quarterback injuries against the Giants. In 2003, Chad Pennington fractured his left (non-throwing) wrist in the annual preseason contest, causing him to miss the first six regular-season games. In 2013, Mark Sanchez suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in the fourth quarter behind a backup offensive line. Saleh noted the Jets aren’t the only team using their star quarterback in the preseason.

“You see some of the great ones out there,” he said. “Kansas City is playing their guys, Buffalo is playing their guys. It’s not uncommon. You can always play the hindsight game, the fearful game, but what’s in the best interest of our team is going out and playing some football together and preparing ourselves the best way we can for Sept. 11.”

It sounds like Rodgers and the starting offense will play more than one series as they try to build chemistry. Because of injuries and positional battles, the Jets haven’t had much continuity in the summer.

“We’ll see how it goes,” Saleh said. “I don’t want to just throw him out there for a series and get him out. I’d like to see those guys go through transition, get to the sideline, have some adjustments, get back to the field, play with those adjustments. You’d like to see that transition happen a few times.”

Rodgers’ offensive line, a trouble spot throughout camp, will be whole — well, almost.

Guards Laken Tomlinson and Alijah Vera-Tucker, both of whom missed last week’s game with injuries, are expected to return. Former first-round pick Mekhi Becton, a backup in camp, will start at right tackle after an impressive showing last week.

The only projected starter still sidelined is left tackle Duane Brown, who was in Houston on Tuesday for a medical evaluation on his surgically repaired shoulder. If cleared, he will be activated from the physically unable to perform list.

Recently signed running back Dalvin Cook won’t play. Neither will running back Breece Hall (ACL surgery), who returned to practice last week. Both are expected for Week 1.

The decision to play Rodgers didn’t come as a surprise, as Saleh hinted at the possibility a few weeks ago.

“For us as an organization, he’s new,” Saleh said Tuesday. “I know he’s been in the long a very long time, but [I] just didn’t want Sept. 11 to be the first time he stepped into MetLife Stadium. The Giants-Jets game, whether it’s preseason or regular season, it’s going to be a good turnout.

“There’s going to be a lot of anticipation and excitement in the building. I just didn’t want the first time that he goes out with his new team, new colors, new teammates, new stadium — I didn’t want it to be the first time on Sept. 11.”

Source : ESPN