A day after he benched Muhammad Wilkerson for most of the first quarter because he showed up late to a team meeting, Jets head coach Todd Bowles said he still considers the 28-year-old defensive end a team leader.
Wilkerson sat for most of the first quarter for arriving to a team meeting late on Saturday, the third straight year he has been benched for being late to a team meeting in his career.
But Bowles said Wilkerson and linebacker Darron Lee, who was a healthy scratch from Sunday's 38-31 win over the Kansas City Chiefs for showing up late to practice, have "earned a lot of trust.
"You make a mistake, and you lose a little trust, and you just have to earn it back," Bowles said at a press conference on Monday. "So going forward, we'll go from there."
Last year, Bowles benched Wilkerson for a quarter in a game against the Miami Dolphins for a "coach's decision" when Wilkerson showed up late to a team meeting that week. A week prior, he missed a team walkthrough. Later in 2016, Bowles and Wilkerson reportedly met to address responsibility.
"It's part of the game, no different than raising your kids - they're going to do something, and you're going to be pissed off, but they are still your kids," Bowles said Monday. "You love them up the next day and keep it moving.
"The biggest thing," Bowles continued, "is we are family here, and sometimes families do different things. At the end of the day, you love them up, and you may be pissed off for a minute, and you get over it and move on. We treat every incident differently, and we go from there."