There was a polite round of applause when Sam Darnold came jogging out from the Jets' locker room and took the practice field for the first time this training camp shortly after 2 p.m. today.
Half of the applause was of the energetic kind, from a few score of VIP fans on the deck overlooking the field. The other half was the "slow clap," as D-lineman Leonard Williams described it, from his new teammates, fully aware that No. 14 in the red jersey wouldn't be among them unless he had signed his rookie contract minutes before.
But Jets fans watching it live on NFL Network as the teammates of the third overall pick in April's draft patted him on the back and tapped him on the helmet or getting the news nearly instantaneously on social media no doubt added to the cacophony in their homes and businesses. All felt the weight of the summer lifted from their shoulders as the final Jets player was signed, sealed and in camp four days after his teammates reported on Thursday night.
"It was good. I was clapping for him," WR Jermaine Kearse said after practice. "He may have to stand up there tonight and sing a song with the rest of the rookies. But we're excited to have him back and we're looking forward to him to just start catching up to everything we've been doing."
"He hasn't missed too much, but he still has some catching up to do," Williams said. "He's missed a few days but we were all happy he got in today."
"I'm happy he's out here," said veteran RB Isaiah Crowell, who worked with Darnold throughout OTAs in the spring. "It's good to have him back."
After Darnold ended the first Jets draft choice holdout since Darrelle Revis in 2007, there were a series of firsts for the recently turned 21-year-old on his roughly 30 plays under center, with 10 of them coming with the first offense.
First snap: Handoff to rookie RB Trenton Cannon.
First pass: Incompletion to TE Clive Walford.
First interception: An off-balance throw down the short middle, tipped by CB Derrick Jones and snagged by S Doug Middleton.
First touchdown: A slingshot over the middle to rookie TE Chris Herndon, who snares it and falls into the end zone during red zone team drills.
Top Images of the Rookie QB's First Day During Training Camp
Darnold himself didn't have a lot to say about those plays or his first practice. The team didn't make him available to reporters afterward, so all that fans heard from the third overall pick from Southern Cal was his message on newyorkjets.com after his signing, when he said:
"What's up, Jets fans? Man, it's a pleasure to be signed now. Very excited, very special moment. Let's do it. Jet up."
We'll be hearing plenty from Darnold in the ensuing days, weeks, months and years. For now all that remains to be said at the moment is: Sam's in the house.