The Jets expect to see the 2015 version of Muhammad Wilkerson this season, not the slow-Mo who labored through a pedestrian 2016, Rich Cimini of ESPN New York reports. Reputations are riding on it, mainly those of Wilkerson and general manager Mike Maccagnan, who signed him to that monster contract last July.
“Hopefully, if he’s healthy, I expect him to be back to the Muhammad that he normally is,” coach Todd Bowles said last week at the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix.
Wilkerson’s health was a matter of debate last season. He played in 15 games and 81 percent of the defensive snaps, yet there was constant speculation on whether he was affected by his surgically repaired fibula. He managed only 4.5 sacks, his fewest since his rookie season (2011). Bowles, who downplayed the injury throughout the season, offered a revised take last week.
“I’m sure he played hurt most of the year,” he said. “We had to give him some off-days. Usually, those things take about a year-and-a-half to come back from. He came back early and gutted it out. It shows the kind of warrior he is. Hopefully, he’s gotten better and he can go back to being himself.”