Saleh acknowledged on Wednesday that he was a fan of the Lions and Barry Sanders during his upbringing in Dearborn, Michigan, around 40 minutes away from where the Lions played their home games. Therefore, it seems somewhat odd that he will coach the Jets against the Lions in a December matchup in which both teams have playoff hopes.
“I still have all of my high school friends, and they’re all still Lions supporters,” Saleh remarked.
Sanders was the fan’s favorite player, as was the case for the vast majority of Lions fans from that era.
“Of course, whose man wasn’t he?” Saleh posed the question rhetorically. “Greatest running back ever.”
Sauce Gardner, a rookie cornerback for the Jets who grew up in Detroit, never supported his local team.
Gardner, who played receiver in high school, was a Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson fan and met Darius Slay when the Pro Bowl cornerback trained at his high school, but his hard-working single mother could not afford Lions tickets and merchandise.
Robert Saleh was a lifelong fan of the Lions, the team he will coach against on Sunday.
“I had to determine how I would survive, you know?” Gardner stated to The Post. “I did not grow up with the means to attend Lions games. Never had a jersey.”
Some members of Gardner’s family, especially his grandmother, are Lions supporters, but would they support the team over an individual?
He hoped not and stated so. This game would be different if it were played in Detroit.
Receiver Corey Davis (concussion), Cornerback Brandin Echols (quad), DE John Franklin-Myers (illness), DT Will Parks (not injury-related) and Quinnen Williams (calf) did not practice on Wednesday. QB Mike White (ribs), LT Duane Brown (shoulder), RT George Fant (knee), and DE Deion Jones (ankle) are all injured. Mike Clemons (knee) was restricted from participation.
According to Saleh, Davis is “making all the progress he should be making, so he’s on track” to play. The availability of Williams is “50/50.” Fant and Brown’s maintenance plans mandate weekly Wednesday restrictions.
Same faces, new locations
This will mark the eighth time that Jared Goff has started against a defense influenced by Saleh. Goff began for the Rams when Saleh was the defensive coordinator for the 49ers (2017-20). Saleh, who boasts a 4-3 advantage in the head-to-head matchup, commended Goff’s accuracy, quick decisions, and ball security.
Saleh remarked, “When he’s back there and comfortable, he’s as good as anyone in this game, and he’s playing at a very high level… with amazing confidence.” “He has only been fired 19 times, so if you allow seven-on-seven, he will destroy you. Credit their offensive line… “He’s doing an excellent job passing the football.”
On Thursday, online fan voting for the Pro Bowl concludes. Next week, the selections will be announced.
Williams is the No. 1 defensive tackle, Gardner is the No. 1 cornerback, Justin Hardee is the No. 2 special teamer, and D.J. Reed is the No. 3 cornerback among AFC voters, according to the most recent update issued on Wednesday.
OT Eric Smith was added to the Jets’ practice squad for the third time in his career. Originally added to the 53-man roster in December 2018 and released in September 2019, he was a member of the practice squad earlier in the season.