The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY)

Jets’ Darnold trend­ing in right di­rec­tion to play vs. Mi­ami

- By DENNISWASZ­AK Jr. Sports · NFL Football · American Football · New York Jets · Miami · New York City · York · Miami Dolphins · Kansas · Kansas City · Joe Flacco

NEW YORK » Sam Darnold could be get­ting closer to re­turn­ing to the hud­dle.

The New York Jets quar­ter­back was lim­ited in prac­tice Wed­nes­day, but there’s op­ti­mism Darnold’s in­jured right shoul­der might be healed in time to play against the Mi­ami Dol­phins on Sun­day at home.

“We’re tak­ing this day by day,” coach Adam Gase said. “We’ll see how to­day goes. Hop­ing for things to go smooth and he feels good. Things are trend­ing in the right di­rec­tion, but we’re go­ing to take this one day at a time.”

Darnold missed the past two games with the in­jury and has been on a throw­ing in­ter­val pro­gram since last week. The 23-year- old quar­ter­back said Mon­day that his arm feels good, but would see how things pro­gressed dur­ing prac­tice this week.

“We’re go­ing in there think­ing that he’s go­ing to be able to do quite a bit,” Gase said of Darnold’s ex­pected work­load Wed­nes­day. “We’ll elim­i­nate any kind of un­nec­es­sary throw­ing. Some­times in spe­cial teams pe­ri­ods and things like that, a lot of throws are made. In those pe­ri­ods, we’ll re­ally limit those.”

Gase said Darnold would toss most of his passes dur­ing in­di­vid­ual drills or team pe­ri­ods. Joe Flacco, who started the past two games, said af­ter prac­tice he just took scout team snaps— an­other pos­i­tive sign for Darnold.

“He looked good,” Flacco said of Darnold. “He was run­ning around out there, throw­ing the ball well, his arm was live. I mean, that’s re­ally most ofwhat you can gather out there to­day. But the ball looked like it was spin­ning and com­ing at guys, so I thought he looked re­ally good.”

Darnold was ini­tially in­jured against Den­ver on Oct. 1, when his shoul­der took the brunt of the im­pact when he was thrown to the turf. He sprained the AC joint in the shoul­der, but stayed in the game be­fore be­ing side­lined for two con­tests. He rein­jured it at Kansas City on Nov. 1 when he took an­other hard hit, but also fin­ished that game.

Both the coach and quar­ter­back spoke Mon­day about how the main con­cern is whether the shoul­der will be able to han­dle con­tact. And, Gase ac­knowl­edged that’s not an easy thing to de­ter­mine.

“I’m ask­ing those same ques­tions,” Gase said, adding that he has been talk­ing about that with Darnold, gen­er­alman­ager Joe Dou­glas and the train­ers. “For us as a coach­ing staff, it’s kind of like, how will we re­ally

know? Some­times in this league, it’s more about — I’m not wor­ried about struc­tural dam­age or some­thing like that. It’s just whether or not how­bad it’s go­ing to be. Like, is he go­ing to be able to re­cover if he gets hit and

gets driven to the ground? Is that pain go­ing to be so­much where he can’t go any­more (in the game)?

“That’s the last thing you want to have hap­pen, his first se­ries of the game, thathap­pens and now we have an is­sue.”

Gase said if Darnold is cleared to play this week for the 0-10 Jets, there are things the coach­ing staff could do to limit the pos­si­bil­ity of con­tact.

That­would­in­clude­cer­tain­play calls, such as lead QB draws or sneaks, that might ex­pose him to big hits.

“At the same time, we’ve got to let him play the way he’s ac­cus­tomed to play­ing,” Gase said. “His big­gest thing to pro­tect him­self is when he gets into those po­si­tions out­side the pocket, it might be a throw­away in­stead of try­ing to do some­thing crazy and ex­tend

the play to the point of where he’s putting him­self in harm’s way.”

Flacco has started in the four gamesDarno­ld has­missed this season, in­clud­ing the past two in which the 35-year-old vet­eran has thrown for 467 yards and five touch­downs with two in­ter­cep­tions. The Jets’ of­fense has also per­formed more con­sis­tently than it had­for­mostof this season with Flacco.

 ??  ?? In this Mon­day, Nov. 9, 2020, file photo, New York Jets quar­ter­back Sam Darnold, left, looks on from the side­lines dur­ing a game against the Pa­tri­ots.
In this Mon­day, Nov. 9, 2020, file photo, New York Jets quar­ter­back Sam Darnold, left, looks on from the side­lines dur­ing a game against the Pa­tri­ots.

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