Sam Darnold can sling the rock about as well as anyone in the NFL, but the Jets quarterback wants to rely less on his arm as he enters his second pro campaign.
“I think being able to step to my target and getting my target line right is something that I’ve always wanted to work on,” he said this spring. “(It’s) something that I’m definitely working on this season because I think you can notice my rookie year, I used a lot of my arm. I feel like I’m capable of doing that, but I want to steer away from that as much as I can.”
Darnold, who missed three games his rookie season with a sprained right foot he suffered against the Dolphins in Week 9, believes a change in his body mechanics will help preserve his arm in 2019 and beyond.
“I want to use my legs as much as I can to be able to thread balls in there, so that I’m not putting so much stress on my shoulder and my elbow because it’ll help me down the road in terms of shoulder being sore and elbow being sore,” he said. “That’s kind of where I want to head towards and that’s really what I’m trying to work on this offseason.”
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Earlier this offseason, Darnold returned to Southern California to again work under the tutelage of Jordan Palmer. Prior to being drafted by the Jets, many skeptics wondered if the fumble problems Darnold had at USC would persist on the professional level. But he had only one strip sack in Year 1 and that came in the season finale against the Pats.
“I worked on things that I really needed to work on. I think I did that my rookie offseason as well in terms of turning the ball over, but this last go-around — I was able to focus in,” Darnold said. “I was also able to watch a lot of my tape from this last year and really figure out how I want to get better.”
Darnold will start training camp light years ahead of where he was last July. Not named the team’s starter until September 3, he started 13 games for the Green & White while completing 57.7 percent of his passes with 17 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.
“My head might not be spinning as much, trying to figure out if I’m running with the 1s, 2s or 3s,” he said of the team’s upcoming training camp. “What’s so-and-so’s name? Oh yeah, what’s the play? There were just so many things I was thinking about my rookie year. So many different, stressful environments that I was put in, but I definitely think it made me a better player and better person overall, so I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. But it’s definitely going to be a lot smoother this second go-around.”