Darnold cleared to play for Jets

Quar­ter­back de­clared fit to play vs. Cow­boys af­ter miss­ing 3 games

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Den­nis Waszak Jr. AP Pro Foot­ball Writer

Sam Darnold’s spleen is fully healthy and he’ll be back un­der cen­ter as the strug­gling New York Jets’ start­ing QB

NEW YORK >> Sam Darnold’s spleen is fully healthy and he’ll be back un­der cen­ter as the strug­gling Jets’ start­ing quar­ter­back. Fi­nally. Darnold was cleared by doc­tors Tues­day to play this week af­ter he missed three games while re­cov­er­ing from mononu­cle­o­sis. He had med­i­cal tests to de­ter­mine if the swelling in his spleen — a com­mon symp­tom of the ill­ness — had dis­si­pated enough for him to play again. The Jets an­nounced in a Twit­ter post that Darnold would start Sun­day at home against Dal­las.

It’s some rare good news for the Jets, who are 0-4 — their worst start since 2003 — while deal­ing with sev­eral in­juries to key play­ers. And Darnold’s ill­ness is at the top of the list.

The team was op­ti­mistic last week that Darnold would be able to play at Philadel­phia, which was the ini­tial goal for his re­turn. Darnold took first­team snaps last Wed­nes­day and Thurs­day, but an ul­tra­sound and blood test last Thurs­day night re­vealed he was not yet able to be fully cleared. So Luke Falk — on one day of full reps with the first-team of­fense — started his se­cond

straight game for New York.

The Jets lost 31-6 and Falk was sacked nine times and had two turnovers re­turned for touch­downs while New York strug­gled to get any­thing go­ing on of­fense. That has been a com­mon theme dur­ing Darnold’s ab­sence, with Adam Gase’s of­fense rank­ing at or near the bot­tom of the league in sev­eral cat­e­gories. New York has just 233 yards of to­tal of­fense in its last two games com­bined. With Falk start­ing, the Jets had 105 against New Eng­land two weeks ago and 128 at Philadel­phia.

“It’s prob­a­bly more than just Sam get­ting out there,” Gase said Mon­day. “We have a lot of other things to clean up. Sam is able to hide things some­times for us, where if we make a mis­take,

he cov­ers it up. I think we just need to do a bet­ter job as a group mak­ing sure that all 11 are on the same page.”

Darnold was di­ag­nosed with mono on Sept. 11, three days af­ter the sea­son-open­ing loss to Buf­falo. He ac­knowl­edged that he was be­gin­ning to ex­pe­ri­ence symp­toms lead­ing into that game and was not 100% against the Bills, go­ing 28 of 41 for 175 yards and a touch­down. He was sent home be­fore prac­tice three days later and re­ceived the di­ag­no­sis that night.

Backup Trevor Siemian started in Week 2 against Cleve­land, but he suf­fered sea­son-end­ing lig­a­ment dam­age in his left an­kle in the 23-3 loss. Falk, who had been on the prac­tice squad

un­til shortly be­fore that game, came in and started the next two games for the Jets.

Darnold was cleared for non-con­tact ac­tiv­ity last Mon­day and ap­peared to be trend­ing to­ward play­ing at Philadel­phia — un­til an­other med­i­cal test failed to bring pos­i­tive re­sults. But the quar­ter­back was ea­ger for the lat­est round of tests.

“I’m ex­cited to hear the news,” Darnold said Mon­day dur­ing his weekly ap­pear­ance on “The Michael Kay Show” on 98.7 ESPN Ra­dio. “I have a feel­ing it’s go­ing to be good news. I thought maybe it would come last week, but I had to wait it out again. Hope­fully, this week it’s bet­ter news and I get to prac­tice and get ready for a game on Sun­day.”

SETH WENIG - THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

FILE - In this May 23, 2019, file photo, New York Jets quar­ter­back Sam Darnold speaks to re­porters af­ter a prac­tice in Florham Park, N.J.

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