Jets’ McCown to start against Bills

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - SPORTS - By Den­nis Waszak Jr. AP Pro Foot­ball Writer

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) >> Josh McCown is go­ing from men­tor to starter this week for the New York Jets.

The 39-year-old quar­ter­back will be un­der cen­ter Sun­day against the Buf­falo Bills in place of in­jured rookie Sam Darnold, who’s side­lined with a strained right foot.

“I’m ready to rule him out as a starter for this week,” coach Todd Bowles said of Darnold on Thurs­day. “I don’t know if I’ll rule him out yet for the game.”

That means Darnold still could po­ten­tially be the No. 2 quar­ter­back on Sun­day. If not, Davis Webb would be pro­moted from the prac­tice squad to serve as McCown’s backup.

Ei­ther way, the start­ing job is McCown’s — at least for this week.

“I’m ex­tremely com­fort­able with him,” Bowles said. “We talk all the time. He un­der­stands the game and the team, and we see things the same way. So I’m com­fort­able.”

McCown has not taken a snap in a reg­u­lar-sea­son game this sea­son as the Jets have fo­cused on de­vel­op­ing Darnold. The No. 3 over­all pick won the job out of train­ing camp, but was in­jured dur­ing New York’s 13-6 loss at Mi-

ami last Sun­day.

McCown was the Jets’ starter last sea­son and had a ca­reer year be­fore be­ing side­lined the last three games with a bro­ken left hand. Since the summer, McCown has spo­ken highly of Darnold and ex­pressed ex­cite­ment about be­ing able to have a hand in the young­ster’s de­vel­op­ment.

Darnold has re­ceived lots of ad­vice and tips from McCown on the side­line and prac­tice field. Now, he’ll have no choice but to watch.

“I say it all the time: That’s why we do this, to play,” McCown said Wed­nes­day when Darnold’s in­jury was an­nounced. “If that’s the case, you’re torn be­cause your friend and a team­mate, it means he can’t go. In that re­gard, I don’t wish that on any­body, but at the same time as a pro­fes­sional, as a backup quar­ter­back you have to serve your team in that role and go in and play win­ning foot­ball.

“That’s what’s fun, that’s what you look for­ward to and that’s why you play this game. And, we’ll go out and com­pete.”

The Jets are ranked 29th in over­all of­fense, in­clud­ing 28th in the pass­ing game. Some of the strug­gles can be at­trib­uted to the in­ex­pe­ri­ence of Darnold, who has an NFL-lead­ing 14 in­ter­cep­tions. Dur­ing New York’s cur­rent three-game los­ing streak, the rookie has thrown two touch­down passes and seven INTs.

So, some might con­sider the in­jury a bless­ing in dis­guise. It al­lows Darnold to take a breather and give McCown a chance to per­haps get the of­fense back on track.

“Ob­vi­ously, Josh has played a long time in this league,” wide re­ceiver Jer­maine Kearse said. “So through­out the weeks, he sees things a lot quicker. Just the men­tal as­pects, he’s a lot fur­ther, just with his ex­pe­ri­ence and be­ing in the league. So, him just be­ing able to see things a lot quicker, you know, the tempo kind of picked up a lit­tle bit.”

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