Jets QB Sam Darnold returns to practice, hopes to face Titans

ByRich Cimini ESPN logo
Thursday, November 29, 2018

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. --New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold practiced Wednesday for the first time in more than three weeks, saying he's "hopeful" he will be back in the lineup Sunday.

"Feeling good, feeling really good," Darnold said of his right foot, which he strained Nov. 4 against the Miami Dolphins.

Darnold was a limited participant in practice, meaning he took part in some team drills. Josh McCown, dealing with minor back and right thumb injuries from last Sunday, also was limited.

Basically, the Jets' quarterback situation is up in the air as they prepare for a road game against the Tennessee Titans. As much as they'd like to have Darnold back on the field, they will err on the side of caution because they see him as their future franchise quarterback.

On Wednesday, McCown, who started the last two games, was the No. 1 quarterback during the open portion of practice. Darnold was No. 2, ahead of Davis Webb. This means there's a good chance Darnold will at least be active for the game.

Darnold admitted he's lobbying to play.

"I mean, yeah," he said. "I want to play really bad. But at the same time, I understand it's a process."

This was Darnold's first significant day of work since the injury, so he was curious to see how his foot responds overnight. He admitted it was "a little sore, but nothing crazy" after practice, adding that he's "pretty optimistic" it won't feel any worse on Thursday.

Coach Todd Bowles, always tight-lipped about injuries, didn't shed any light on the situation. Asked if Darnold looked rusty in practice, Bowles said, "He looked limited."

For his part, Darnold was upbeat and pleased.

"It felt pretty normal," he said. "There were times where I felt my feet weren't quick enough, but that will come with a couple of more practices."

Darnold, 3-6 as the starter, leads the league with 14 interceptions. He was in a slump at the time of the injury, but he showed signs of promise before getting hurt.

Darnold is next-to-last in passer rating (68.3), ahead of fellow rookie Josh Allen (65.2) of the Buffalo Bills.