Jets may delay decision on Sam Darnold until Sunday

ByRich Cimini via ESPN logo
Wednesday, October 2, 2019

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. --New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold practiced Wednesday for the first time since his Week 2 diagnosis of mononucleosis, but the team may not reveal this week's starter until Sunday.

If Darnold misses a third straight game, the Jets will start Luke Falk against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Coach Adam Gase seemed more hopeful about Darnold's chances than he was Monday, but he left enough wiggle room to keep the Eagles guessing.

"I like our odds better than what they've been," Gase said before practice. "Last week, if we would've been playing again, I would've said it's very low. I like the fact that things have looked and progressed in the right direction. But I don't know what that 5 percent is. There's some gray still there."

Darnold hasn't been cleared for contact, but that could happen Friday, when his next medical exam will occur. Previously, he was examined on Mondays.

Darnold was limited in practice, according to the Jets' injury report, but he did get work with the starters, players said.

"He looked good, he looked comfortable," wide receiver Robby Anderson said. "To me, I didn't feel like he was away. I feel like we connected on pretty much everything today. He feels good. You can tell he's excited to be back. He wanted to put a lot of extra work in, so that's a good sign. Me and him had a very good work day today."

Anderson said Darnold's return to the lineup "would give us a lot of energy. I think it would take a big toll on us in a positive way to have our quarterback back. That's big."

The Jets broke out a red jersey to accommodate Darnold. Unlike most coaches, Gase doesn't require his quarterbacks to wear red (no-contact) jerseys in practice.

"We have to keep talking to the doctors every day and keep talking to him," Gase said. "We have to be prepared to go either way.

"If it doesn't look right, we'll go in a different direction."

On Monday, Darnold all but admitted his spleen was still swollen -- a potentially dangerous situation. An enlarged spleen, one of the primary symptoms of mono, could rupture with a hit to the midsection. Otherwise, Darnold said he feels great and wants to play.

Darnold and Falk are the only two experienced quarterbacks on the 53-man roster, which could indicate the Jets are leaning toward making Darnold active for the game. Mike White, a former Dallas Cowboys draft pick, was added to the practice squad last week.

Falk hinted that he didn't take many reps in practice, saying, "You've got to get the physical reps after practice with the guys and lock in mentally when [Darnold] is getting his reps with the 1s. ... I'm getting the mental reps and I'm getting the physical reps also. If my number is called, I'll be ready to roll and we'll see what happens."

Journeyman David Fales, who dressed as the No. 2 quarterback for the Week 3 loss to the New England Patriots, was released last week.

The Jets are looking for something to spark the offense, which has generated only one touchdown in three games -- all losses. Falk, who replaced Trevor Siemian (ankle) in Week 2, has led the offense to only three points in 22 possessions.

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