FLORHAM PARK, NJ - JULY 28: Quarterbacks James Morgan #4 and Mike White #5 of the New York Jets during morning practice at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center on July 28, 2021 in Florham Park, New Jersey.
James Morgan, Mike White, NY Jets Training Camp (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

The show belongs to James Morgan and Mike White for now

The start of New York Jets training camp has also commenced the countdown of seeing a quarterback make his NFL regular-season debut. At this rate, however, Jets fans might not be getting the professional newcomer they were expecting.

The ongoing contract dispute between the team and Zach Wilson has kept the second overall pick out of the preparation proceedings on 1 Jets Drive. In his place for the time being stand James Morgan and Mike White, a pair of throwers who have made their NFL entry but have yet to throw a pass in a regular-season game.

Morgan, in fact, has yet to don his game jersey, as his first NFL preseason was wiped out due to the health crisis. White, on the other hand, has been on and off the New York practice squad after two summers with the Dallas Cowboys (who drafted him in the fifth round out of Western Kentucky in 2018).

Head coach Robert Saleh has dealt with questions about the Jets’ lack of experience in the quarterback room throughout the offseason.

During spring activities, Saleh made it clear that he wasn’t going to add a veteran backup for the sake of adding a seasoned thrower. Thus, Morgan and White have taken center stage at the start of camp. Per Connor Hughes of The Athletic, White has gotten the premier reps.

With no immediate end to the Wilson situation on the horizon, Jets management has apparently gone hunting for experienced passing again. ESPN’s Adam Schefter has reported that the Jets are planning to work out seasoned reserves Josh Johnson and Sean Mannion.

Robert Saleh backs his backup quarterbacks

Despite any free-agency rumor, Saleh came to the defense of his current crop after Wednesday’s activities.

“Today, I thought they did a good job. There was a good command of the huddle, getting in a good understanding, a good recall from what happened, what they went through in OTAs,” Saleh said, per video provided by the Jets. “It was a crisp practice in terms of Route running and all that. So I thought they did a good job.”

Per Hughes, White got off to a solid start, finding Elijah Moore and Chris Herndon for big gains on consecutive plays. ESPN’s Rich Cimini, on the other hand, labeled Morgan as “shaky,” but concurred that White had “ended (with a) good series”.

Asked if he was comfortable with the lack of game day reps on the current depth chart, Saleh once again stood his ground about the relative mandate to add a veteran passer.

“I don’t know if it’s deliberate at all,” Saleh said of the fresh throwers. “It’s just that you have two guys that have had time invested in them in terms of development. You see potential, and you see all that stuff.”

Morgan was chosen in the fourth round of last year’s virtual draft out of Florida International but did not dress in any games. White earned a 68.5 passer rating in his pair of preseasons (8 games) in Dallas.

But Saleh once again appeared unwilling to quit on the pair to add a veteran. He did acknowledge that conversations would continue to be had if the Wilson situation becomes more desperate, but he has expressed an interest in getting White and Morgan’s NFL careers back on track.

“(We don’t want) to give up on those guys, just for the sake of bringing someone in,” Saleh said. “I think sometimes that can be seen as a cop-out.

“(These) are all fair questions. But as a coaching staff, we don’t waver on the fact that we have trust in the players that are here. We’re going to give our full attention to the players that are here. Call a blind loyalty if you want but it’s a commitment to those players that we’re going to do everything we can to help them get to the point where they can win games for us. That’s our that’s our commitment.”

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As NFL training camps open across the country, Wilson is the only first-round pick that has yet to sign with his team after fellow thrower Trey Lance inked his deal with San Francisco on Wednesday. Saleh had no further update on progress toward getting him back in action, only passing another vote of confidence to general manager Joe Douglas and dedicating his focus on the 89 rostered Jets who have reported to Florham Park.

“From the business side of it, there’s a lot of things that come into play. Like I said, Joe’s got a great handle on it,” Saleh said. “When he signs, he signs. There (are) 89 other guys that deserve our attention and that’s where all our focus is right now.”

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

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Geoff Magliocchetti is a veteran football writer with years of credentialed experience with the Jets and Giants. Email: geoffmags90@gmail.com
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2 years ago

Saleh defying conventional wisdom on vets at QB & CB. Bold, hope he is right