Sam Darnold gets majority of reps Sunday, could be in line to start Thursday

RICHMOND, Va. -- Coming off an impressive performance in the first preseason game, New York Jets rookie Sam Darnold is poised to make his move up the quarterback depth chart.

Coach Todd Bowles adjusted his rotation in a joint practice Sunday with the Washington Redskins, giving Darnold the majority of the reps for the first time -- an indication he might start Thursday night against the Redskins at FedEx Field.

Bowles said he hasn't finalized his quarterback plans for the game, but the game plan going into training camp was to give their first-round draft pick a chance to start at least one preseason game, sources said.

"It's important to get him working and caught up with certain things defenses are doing," Bowles said. "That's more important than getting him reps with the first, second or third team."

Darnold called his opening-night performance "a good little preseason debut." He completed 13 of 18 passes for 96 yards and a touchdown, leading a touchdown drive in the two-minute drill at the end of the first half. He played with second- and third-stringers.

On Sunday, Darnold remained third in the rotation, behind Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater, but he received 12 first-team reps, compared to seven for McCown and one for Bridgewater. All told, Darnold took 20 of the 35 total reps, also working with the backups.

"No matter who I'm working with, reps are always the key, but I think working with the first team gets me more comfortable with those guys and they get more comfortable with me and the way I like to play," Darnold said after the rain-shortened session with the Redskins.

The Jets are following the same script as last summer, when second-year quarterback Christian Hackenberg -- afforded a chance to win the job -- started the second and third preseason game. McCown didn't play in either game.

Hackenberg bombed his audition, so they wound up starting McCown, 39, who enjoyed a career year. Once again, he finds himself a bystander.

"Just like last year, I understand evaluations have to take place," McCown said. "I think they have a pretty good handle on who I am as a player and what they expect from me. Whatever they decide, I understand completely."

McCown played only one series in the first game. Bridgewater (7-for-8, 85 yards, one touchdown pass) was sharp in two series, leading the offense to a touchdown and a field goal in a 17-0 win over the Atlanta Falcons.

"I'd like to continue to build on that," he said.

Meanwhile, Darnold is enjoying the attention. In his hometown of San Clemente, California, his former high school is selling Darnold bobblehead dolls to raise money for the football program.

"I've seen it," Darnold said, laughing. "The hair on the bobble head actually looks a little bit better than mine in real life, so I give them props on that. ... It's really cool to see the buzz that goes around, with all those bobbleheads floating around the city of San Clemente."
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