Bowles mum on Jets starter, but all signs point to Darnold

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

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) >> The New York Jets’ start­ing quar­ter­back against the Buf­falo Bills is ... still to be de­ter­mined.

All signs in­di­cate it will be rookie Sam Darnold un­der cen­ter af­ter he was a full par­tic­i­pant at prac­tice all week fol­low­ing miss­ing three games with a strained right foot. Coach Todd Bowles de­clined, how­ever, to an­nounce Fri­day whether it will be Darnold or Josh McCown.

“We’ll de­cide that on Sun­day,” Bowles said. “Be­tween him and Josh, they both had good weeks.”

If Darnold plays, it would be his first game ac­tion since be­ing in­jured against Mi­ami on Nov. 4. Darnold was re­placed the last three games by McCown, who had one touch­down pass and four in­ter­cep­tions while the Jets went 0-3.

McCown fully par­tic­i­pated in prac­tice Fri­day af­ter be-

ing lim­ited Wed­nes­day and Thurs­day by a sore back.

The 21-year-old Darnold is healthy, but Bowles’ de­ci­sion will be about whether the rookie has his tim­ing back af­ter a three-game lay­off.

“Just us de­cid­ing whether he’s ready or not,” Bowles said.

The coach added that Darnold be­ing a full par­tic­i­pant all week and McCown be­ing lim­ited most of the week wouldn’t play a fac­tor in the fi­nal de­ci­sion.

“They all were lim­ited last week, and Josh played,” Bowles said. “At this point in the sea­son, I can put about 40 guys on there (in­jury re­port) lim­ited that’ll play.”

Bowles shed lit­tle light on what would go into the team’s de­ci­sion-mak­ing process. When asked what he saw from Darnold this week that he liked, he said sim­ply: “Just that he was healthy.”

De­spite the cloak-anddag­ger games­man­ship, Darnold is fully ex­pected to take the field against Buf­falo to face fel­low rookie Josh Allen.

Darnold ac­knowl­edged that the fi­nal four games are im­por­tant for him and the rest of the team, which is in the midst of a six-game skid, to fin­ish on a pos­i­tive note. Bowles said there are things Darnold can im­prove on as his first NFL sea­son draws to a close.

“Well, ev­ery­thing,” Bowles said. “Ob­vi­ously, as a rookie quar­ter­back you’re go­ing to have im­prove on ev­ery­thing ev­ery week, and that’s any one of our rook­ies at any po­si­tion. He’s got to get bet­ter with reads, and he will with play­ing time and ev­ery­thing else and pro­gres­sions and get­ting in and out of the huddle, which he had been do­ing a good job at be­fore he got hurt.”

Darnold has thrown for 1,934 yards, sec­ond to Cleve­land’s Baker May­field, among rook­ies. He has 11 touch­down passes along with the 14 INTs, but his 55.0 com­ple­tion per­cent­age and 68.3 quar­ter­back rat­ing rank near the bot­tom of the league.

Of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Jeremy Bates thinks there might have been some ben­e­fit to Darnold watch­ing for three games and re­set­ting him­self for the fi­nal stretch.


FILE - In this Sun­day, Oct. 28, 2018 file photo, New York Jets quar­ter­back Sam Darnold (14) looks to throw against the Chicago Bears dur­ing the sec­ond half of an NFL foot­ball game in Chicago.


Ten­nessee Ti­tans quar­ter­back Mar­cus Mar­i­ota (8) gets out of the grasp of New York Jets in­side line­backer Dar­ron Lee (58) in the sec­ond half of an NFL foot­ball game Sun­day, Dec. 2, 2018, in Nashville, Tenn.

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