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Darnold Eyes Possible Return as Jets' Starting QB at Buffalo

Rookie Practices Full for 1st Time in a Month: 'I'm Really Excited About Where We're Heading'


Similar to Orson Welles and his wine, Todd Bowles and Sam Darnold will clear no sore foot before its time.

This afternoon it seemed as if it's almost time.

"I'm really excited about this week and where we're heading," the Jets' rookie quarterback said following today's first practice of the week for Sunday's rematch with the Bills in Western New York. "I'm really excited about how I felt today, so as of right now I'm really excited about hopefully getting a chance to play on Sunday."

Bowles, as is his custom, was not ready this early in the week to declare Darnold his starter for the Bills after he was inactive the past three games with the foot he strained at Miami.

"He's getting the rust off, he had a full practice, and it was good to see him," Bowles said. "He's got to get the rust off and he's got to get the game plan down. He got reps last week and we'll continue to get him reps this week. We'll monitor it as it goes along and we'll make a decision toward the end of the week."

Darnold was not making the decision yet, either, but he very positive about how his first full practice in five weeks (including the bye week) went.

"There's some soreness here and there with any injury coming back, but at the same time I feel really good. It was just really nice to get out there and get some reps," he said.

"There were some throws that were a little low, a little high, not necessarily on the guy's facemask running in stride. So I've just got to continue to work on that and I think tomorrow I'll clean some of that stuff up. By the end of practice I felt like we had a really good rhythm going and we were in and out of the huddle and our receivers were going a little bit and I was putting it where the ball needed to be. So it felt really good from that standpoint."

It's not one of the goals on his checklist heading into the final quarter of the season, but Darnold said it would be "really fun" to participate in the first game featuring two starters from the top-ten QB draft class of 2018.

"Yeah, that would be really fun, just to compete against him," Darnold said of his former combine/predraft workout partner, adding, "The dude is a freak athlete. He's so big and runs so fast and can throw the ball a mile. He's a handful for defenses all around the league. I know that, like I've had, there's just some different looks that you go against than in college, so he's having, like I've been having, a little bit of rookie struggles. I think for both of us it's just about continuing to get those reps. But Josh has been doing amazing."

Top Snapshots from Wednesday's Practice at 1 Jets Drive

Darnold and Allen could've been the starters in Week 10 when the Bills visited MetLife Stadium, but they were both nursing injuries so they "connected a little bit" before the game while the starting pitchers were Josh McCown and Matt Barkley. The only other time two rookie QBs met this season were when Darnold and the Jets lost to "relief hurler" Baker Mayfield and Cleveland in Week 3's Thursday night game.

While Allen has returned from his elbow injury to start Buffalo's last two games, a home win over Jacksonville and Sunday's road loss to Miami, Darnold still hasn't been cleared for a return. But he hasn't whined about his rehab, and now that his time on the sideline is almost done, he's getting perhaps a little bubbly.

"I like to take everything one day at a time, especially with this injury that I had. I'm really just trying to practice hard every single day," he said. "And then when Sunday comes and I'm healthy, I'm really looking forward to going out there and playing well."

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