NEW YORK (AP)Sam Darnold will start at quarterback for the New York Jets on Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.
Coach Adam Gase made the announcement Friday after Darnold’s injured right shoulder progressed throughout the week. Gase says barring any setbacks, Darnold will be back under center to try to lead the 0-10 Jets to their elusive first win.
”Unless something changes today, which I don’t anticipate,” Gase said, ”everything looks good to go.”
Darnold missed the last two games against New England and the Los Angeles Chargers as Joe Flacco started in his place.
”It’s been a good week for Sam,” Gase said. ”From the last time that we were going through a week before that New England game, the way he’s throwing the football right now, you can tell there’s a big difference as far as the control, the velocity, his change of pace on throws.
”It just looks a lot different than the last time he tried to make a run at going to play in a game.”
Darnold was first hurt against Denver on Oct. 1, when he sprained the AC joint in the shoulder on a hard tackle to the turf.. He reinjured it at Kansas City on Nov. 1 on another hard hit and missed the next two games.
Darnold struggled in the six games he has played with just three touchdown passes and six interceptions. While New York didn’t win, Flacco has been solid in the last two games with five TD throws and two INTs while helping the offense move consistently.
All three of the Jets’ starting wide receivers – Jamison Crowder, Breshad Perriman and Denzel Mims – played together for the first time in those games with Flacco. Perriman was limited Wednesday and Thursday with a shoulder ailment, but Gase said the receiver would be a full participant Friday. The game Sunday would mark the first this season with Darnold on the field with all of them, and that could add another boost to the offense.
”We’re excited for him to be able to go out and play with all these guys and get out there,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said. ”It’s been a hard couple of weeks for Sam not being able to play, but he’s been grinding through and doing everything he could to get ready for this game. We’re definitely excited to have him back with those three guys, playing together for the first time.”
One of the main concerns leading into this week was whether Darnold’s shoulder would be able to sustain another hit without him having to be sidelined. The Jets are confident the quarterback will be fine, and they won’t change the game plan to be more conservative to protect him.
”We have to call this game and we put plays in this week based on him being healthy,” Loggains said. ”If you’re going to play in a game like this, you need to be ready to go and be able to execute the full offense. That was the biggest decision, seeing where Sam’s at and how much he can handle. We feel good about his health and everything he can do.”
In other injuries: right tackle George Fant was not expected to participate in practice with knee and ankle injuries, so he’s unlikely to play. Linebacker Patrick Onwuasor (hamstring) was also expected to sit out practice for the second straight day.
Linebacker Blake Cashman (hamstring) and offensive lineman Chuma Edoga (ankle) were expected to be limited at practice.
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP-NFL