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Joe Flacco Steps In, Le'Veon Bell Returns for Jets vs. Cards

QB Sam Darnold Rests Sore Shoulder; Offense Gets Boost as Bell Joins Gore & Perine in Backfield

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The Jets team facing the Arizona Cardinals at MetLife Stadium this afternoon is a different Green & White outfit than the one that faced its first four opponents. Will that be enough to get the Jets off their 0-4 schneid?

The big switch is at quarterback. Joe Flacco, cleared to play last game against Denver (and getting in for four plays and two completions) after not playing in any games or practices for almost a year while rehabbing his neck injury while with the Broncos, is taking the reins from Sam Darnold, who suffered a right shoulder sprain in the first half against the Broncos on Oct. 1.

Thus Darnold, the youngest Jets QB to make his first start as the first-round rookie in 2018 (21 years, 97 days), will hand the baton off to Flacco, who will become the fourth oldest QB to make his first Jets start (35 years, 268 days) and the oldest QB to make his first Jets start in a non-opening-day game.

Mike White, elevated from the practice squad to the active roster for this game, will serve as Flacco's backup.

Another interesting change will be the return of tailback Le'Veon Bell to action. Bell started in the opener at Buffalo, injured his hamstring, and has been on Injured Reserve the past three weeks. But Bell returned to practice Wednesday, was activated from IR Saturday, and today joins an offensive backfield that also features ageless Frank Gore and intriguing rookie La'Mical Perine.

While Flacco should enjoy handing off to Bell and targeting passes to WR Jamison Crowder, seeking his third consecutive 100-yard receiving game, he won't have a complete O-line protecting him as huge rookie LT Mekhi Becton will sit out after missing most of the last game with a shoulder injury. The tackles will be George Fant and Chuma Edoga, who returns from his own shoulder injury today.

The Jets made some other roster moves Saturday, releasing Alec Ogletree (the veteran LB who played vs. San Francisco and Denver) and Josh Malone (who worked at WR and as the kickoff returner the first month) and signing OL Jimmy Murray from the practice squad to the active roster.

They are also set to get the return to action of rookie S Ashtyn Davis (out two games with a groin injury) and LB Jordan Willis (ankle injury), both of whom are active. Also, rookie CB Lamar Jackson has also been elevated from the P-squad.

All the changes have been made with the idea of the Jets taking the fight to NFC West opponent Arizona on their home turf, once again playing before no spectators due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The Cardinals come in with dangerous weapons, led on offense by highly elusive second-year QB Kyler Murray and leading WR DeAndre Hopkins, who beat the Jets for 100-yard receiving games when he was a Houston Texan in 2015 and '18.

But while the Cards can be a wild bunch, they aren't invincible. After winning their first two games, they lost at home to the Lions and on the road to the Panthers. And now the Jets, after a week of adapting to their changes at QB and RB and focusing on starting faster and reducing/eliminating defensive personal fouls, would like to extend the visitors' losing streak to three while hanging their first W of the season on the board.

The Jets' complete list of inactives for today's game:

  • QB James Morgan
  • QB Sam Darnold
  • WR Breshad Perriman
  • RB Ty Johnson
  • CB Bless Austin
  • S Marqui Christian
  • T Mekhi Becton

And Arizona's inactives:

  • QB Brett Hundley
  • RB Eno Benjamin
  • S Chris Banjo
  • LB Devon Kennard
  • OL Josh Miles
  • OL Josh Jones
  • TE Jordan Thomas

See the Green and White Arriving at MetLife Stadium for the Week 5 Matchup Against Arizona

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