Despite Sam Darnold’s enthusiasm about returning, the New York Jets quarterback has “hurdles to clear” before cementing his Week 5 status.
The franchise quarterback has missed the past two games with mononucleosis but was hopeful about returning for the Jets’ Week 5 visit to Philadelphia. In a conference call last week, Darnold was enthusiastic about the remaining portion of the schedule, even teasing some potential good times ahead for the 0-3 squad.
“We’re going to go out there in practice and guys are going to refresh in this bye week and we’re going to go on a little run here,” Darnold said, per transcripts provided by the Jets. “It’s going to be fun, but it’s going to take a lot of work. But, I know a lot of the guys on the team are willing to put in that work.”
Darnold said in his conference call that returning for Week 5 was “kind of the goal” when it came to his return. The comeback appeared even more imminent when the Jets released backup quarterback David Fales last week. That move left most recent starter Luke Falk the only active quarterback on the roster.
Don’t break out your No. 14 jersey just yet, though.
ESPN’s Chris Mortensen gave an update on Darnold’s status on Sunday. Mortensen’s morning tweet was twinged with hope, yet cautionary when it came to next Sunday.
“Jets QB Sam Darnold still has hurdles to clear to play week 5. He says he will have more tests Monday on his spleen,” Mortensen said. “If it’s not as enlarged, he can begin practicing and working out. His cardio has been limited to walking and stationary bike. Not a lock but hopeful after mono bout [sic].”
It’s no surprise to hear Darnold’s spleen and cardio playing a big part in his recovery. Darnold said last week that his plan was to “do some light cardio, just ride the bike, maybe do some running if I’m allowed to”.
Head coach Adam Gase, in a conference call a week prior to Darnold’s, was likewise hopeful about seeing his thrower in Philadelphia but was likewise concerned about the spleen. He said it was “realistic” to see Darnold take on the Eagles, but that Darnold’s health and safety obviously took priority.
“We’re at the mercy of, basically, what the doctors tell us,” Gase said. “I mean, this is something that serious. Where if his spleen burst, we got a problem. We got to make sure he’s right and safe to be able to play.”
The Jets’ offense has struggled mightily without the sophomore quarterback. They entered Week 4’s action dead last in yardage at 196.7 yards game. New York managed to earn only 105 total yards and six first downs in last week’s 30-14 loss in New England.
It’s only natural for fans, players, and coaches alike to want Darnold back. But it most certainly won’t come at further risk to the young franchise staple’s well-being.
“He’s going to start doing the cardio aspect of what he needs to do, kind of build up,” Gase said last week in another conference call. “Everything looks really good. I just don’t want to get ahead of myself and say, ‘Yes,’ and then all of a sudden there’s kind of some weird setback that I don’t know about.”