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Jets QB Mike White (forearm) exits early, replaced by Josh Johnson vs. Colts

For a New York minute, Mike White was a headline-grabbing, game-winning star.

A media darling, a fan frenzy, an underdog hero who lifted the New York Jets to a victory, but more so, White gave the Gang Green faithful something to grin about in another head-shaking season.  

It was a flash of good fortune that was quickly expunged on Thursday night, as White's supernova-esque introduction into the NFL spotlight hit an abrupt stop.

Following a first-quarter touchdown pass to Elijah Moore against the Indianapolis Colts, White exited the game with a right forearm injury, later stating that the middle fingers on his throwing hand went numb but that he'll be ready to return to action when needed.

White, who took over two weeks prior for rookie starter Zach Wilson, was listed as questionable, but never returned as Josh Johnson took over at quarterback to begin the second quarter of an eventual 45-30 Jets loss that dropped New York to 2-6.

Jets head coach Robert Saleh said after the game that White couldn't grip the football. As the game went on, roughly at the midway point of the fourth stanza, Saleh said White's ability to grip was returning but it was too late to reinsert him.

"We feel good about him getting healthy over the weekend and being ready next week," Saleh said.

While Saleh prognosticates a return next week for White, the fourth-year QB was doing his best to get back into the game Thursday.

"I kinda just felt it lock up on me," said White. "Throughout the course of the game, we tried everything.

"It progressively got better throughout the game and it feels better now."

Prior to throwing the touchdown to Moore, White's arm was hit by a Colts defender while throwing. After the TD, White was seen on the sideline experiencing trouble gripping the ball and headed into the blue medical tent.

White made his first NFL start in Week 8 and led the Jets to an upset of the Cincinnati Bengals on the strength of a 405-yard, three-touchdown performance that also won him AFC Offensive Player of the Week. Prior to leaving Thursday night, White completed 7 of 11 passes for 95 yards and the 19-yard touchdown.

If there's more in store for White, he'll be ready to go.

"It's not some season-ending injury," White said. "We'll be fine and I'll be able to play again if my number's called."

Johnson finished the game 27 for 41 for 317 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.

"Josh, I thought he did an awesome job, coming in," Saleh said. "Ran the offense exactly how it's supposed to be run. Hitting the open receivers, moving the chains."

Johnson had three touchdowns in less than a full game, while White has five touchdowns in less than three full games and Wilson has four TDs in six games. Joe Flacco, for whom the Jets traded following Wilson's injury, was inactive ahead of the game as Saleh said he didn't join the team until Friday and hasn't had a full week of practice.

Going forward, Saleh said he anticipates Wilson, who suffered a knee injury in Week 7 that was expected to sideline him two to four weeks, returning to practice this week.

"He's progressing exactly like we thought," Saleh said. "So, there's hope, like I said, it's the same thing, at the very least practice next week. And then we'll see how he progresses over the weekend to see if it's an option to get him on the field."

So, if Wilson is ready to go, will he start in Week 10?

"We'll see," Saleh said. "Day to day."

The White-hot mania came to an early end on Thursday night and it's uncertain if he'll have another chance to deliver in the coming weeks, or when Wilson, the No. 2 overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft, will return to his starting role.

On Thursday night, Wilson started the game on the sidelines, White eventually joined him there and the much-traveled Johnson performed splendidly, but it all added up to a loss and another reminder that more often than not, the Jets just can't have nice things.

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