A sleeveless Sam Darnold was back at New York Jets practice, strengthening the possibility he could return in Sunday’s divisional showdown.
In the latest twist of his medical drama, Darnold took to a chilly Florham Park field sans sleeves. He kept plenty warm, however, with what was his most active practice since suffering a foot injury on Nov. 4 in Miami.
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Darnold was dressed and involved in all of last week’s practices, but Josh McCown continued to get the lion’s share of reps. In subsequent injury reports, Darnold was marked as a “limited” participant. McCown would go on to make his third consecutive start last weekend in Tennessee.
On Wednesday, however, Darnold appeared to earn a majority of throws when the team convened. He would end the session working with the first-team unit, completing a pass to Robby Anderson. On the post-practice injury list, Darnold was listed as a full participant for the first time since Nov. 2.
Despite the Jets’ 3-9 record, head coach Todd Bowles has expressed his intentions to get Darnold some game throws before the season lets out. He spoke about the team’s plan for the rookie in a conference call on Monday.
“I’ll just see where he is from an accuracy standpoint, a timing standpoint, (and) a rust standpoint,” Bowles said. “He’s got to see plays and I had him only throwing three (days) last week. He did get better and everything was fine, but he’ll get better even this week and then we’ll make that determination on Sunday.”
Bowles did not name a starting quarterback leading into the Tennessee visit. The reveal of McCown as the starter came hours before kickoff when Darnold was announced as inactive. McCown would throw for 128 yards in a 26-22 loss to the Titans. Unlike Darnold, he was limited on Wednesday with a thumb injury.
The head coach kept the theme of a surprise starter going after practice, as he said it was “too early in the week” to name a starter for this week. The Jets will play their penultimate divisional game of the season against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday (1:00 p.m. ET, CBS).
Darnold spoke to the media after practice. As has normally been the case during this injury process, he expressed cautious desire to get back on the field.
“It felt really good to get back out there and get some reps,” Darnold said. “There’s some soreness here and there, (just like) with any injury with coming back. But at the same time, I feel like, for me mentally, it was really nice to get out there and get some reps.”
The University of Southern California alum will likely be facing some unfamiliar conditions on Sunday. Temperatures at New Era Field in Orchard Park, NY are expected to dip into the 20s on Sunday, a far cry from the average December reading of 68 degrees Fahrenheit in his home of Capistrano Beach, California.
Darnold said his lack of sleeves on Wednesday was simply a matter of comfort. If it helps him get ready for Sunday, it would simply be an added benefit.
“I just felt comfortable out there,” Darnold declared. “It’s cold today, but I had a little wetsuit underneath, so I was really warm. I didn’t need long sleeves, so I just went with it.”
Asked about Darnold’s lack of sleeves, Bowles joked, “Tough guys wear coats.”