Sam Darnold didn’t offer many hints about his availability for Sunday, other than to say he will do his best to be out there. Wednesday, however, should offer some insight.
If Darnold can practice with the sprained AC joint in his right throwing shoulder, he should be able to play. Otherwise, the winless Jets will likely be without their starting quarterback against the Cardinals at MetLife Stadium.
“It’s not something I’ve decided. It’s how I feel on that day,” Darnold said Monday over Zoom about practicing Wednesday. “I’m going to go about it day-by-day. I want nothing more than to be out there with the guys playing football on Sunday. Practicing is a huge part of it.”
This isn’t the typical Wednesday when a new game plan is installed. The winless Jets hope to be getting back key playmakers Le’Veon Bell, Breshad Perriman and Denzel Mims, and Darnold would need to practice with them. Bell and Mims, out the last three games, are eligible to come off injured reserve while Perriman has missed the last two games. Bell and Mims are dealing with hamstring injuries while Perriman has an ankle issue.
The Jets plan to provide an update on Darnold on Wednesday. On Friday, coach Adam Gase said on a conference call that “anything is on the table right now.” Wide receiver Jeff Smith had a similar injury to Darnold and missed a month.
“It takes some time,” he said.
Darnold did say he was feeling better on Monday and the shoulder is improving each day, though he hasn’t done any throwing since Thursday’s loss to the Broncos. He’s been getting treatment and keeping the shoulder mobile. He suffered the injury when Broncos linebacker Broncos linebacker Alexander Johnson sacked and slammed him to the turf. The injury looked severe, but he quickly returned and finished the night 23 of 42 for 230 yards with a career-high 84 yards rushing. Staying out was never a doubt after he was medically cleared.
“Once I got hurt and the doctor said I could go back there if I wanted to, there was no question,” he said.
Whether he will be cleared to play on Sunday remains uncertain. Darnold said there are discussions that have to be had with doctors about whether he is risking long-term damage to the shoulder by playing.
Darnold made it seem as if he will be out there if the decision is up to him and the pain is tolerable. As a rookie, he missed three games due to a foot injury, and last year a bout with mononucleosis cost him three games. He wants to play.
“For me, the most important thing is playing football,” Darnold said. “If I can go out there and play, and I’m able to go out there and understand that there might be a potential risk. But I think the most important thing for me is going out there and playing if I can. If I’m able to play and I don’t play, that’s worse than anything in my opinion.
“Your best ability as a quarterback is your availability, I’ve always said that and I believe in that. I always want to do everything I can to not miss any games.”
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