Approximately seven minutes before the Jets took the field for their fourth training camp practice, quarterback Sam Darnold put pen to paper and signed his rookie contract.
The No. 3 overall pick in April hustled from the signing room to the locker room and quickly put his pads on. Then he joined his teammates, who welcomed the USC product with a slow clap and some light-hearted ribbing.
"I told him he was late," head coach Todd Bowles said.
After practice, Bowles made it clear that the team's depth chart under center won't change in the short-term with the addition of Darnold.
"Josh is 1, Teddy is 2, Sam is 3," he said. "The competition has been underway, it just didn't start today. It started Thursday when we reported for camp. He has some work to catch up and do, so throughout the course of the preseason, that'll take care of itself and we'll go from there."
Best Snapshots from Practice No. 4 During Camp
Like any rookie, or any player for that matter, Darnold went through the ebbs and flows of a first padded practice in months.
In 1-on-1s, Darnold tossed a deep ball to wide receiver Robby Anderson, who made a nice adjustment to reel in the pass while drawing a pass interference call on corner Rashard Robinson. The 6'3", 225-pound Darnold was productive in the red zone period, finding fellow rookie tight end Chris Herndon and wideout Quincy Enunwa for scores.
However, Darnold also showed moments where he struggled as S Doug Middleton picked him off after Derrick Jones tipped a pass intended for Anderson. Bowles said the signal caller, who received a few reps with the first team like he did in the spring, is just "getting his feet wet" and will increase the signal caller's reps once he catches up with the playbook.
"He's going to see some things from the defensive standpoint that for three days we put in that he hasn't seen in the spring," Bowles said. "It'll take some time, but he'll take some reps."
Putting the 'New' in New Jack City
Derrick "Bones" Jones and Parry Nickerson, two young bucks in the secondary, have flashed over the past couple days. Jones, a sixth-round pick in 2017, has collected an interception both in teams drills and 7-on-7 work and a second theft in team was ruled incomplete because an official ruled that he only was able to get one foot inbounds.
"Mentally he's come back a lot sharper and he's not swimming like he was a lot last year," Bowles said. "From that standpoint, he's been outstanding. He's in great shape and he's not swimming. The game slowed down for him some, so it'll be interesting to see how he plays."
Through four practices, Nickerson has shown a knack for the ball, which shouldn't come as a surprise considering he recorded 47 pass defenses and 16 interceptions in four seasons at Tulane. Although the rookie has yet to record an interception, he's come close a few times and received some reps with the first-team at nickel Monday.
"It's early. He has good feet and he's smart," Bowles said. "As camp develops, we'll see how he develops, but we like what we see in the player. We have to continue to develop him."
Defensive lineman Xavier Cooper (strain) and safeties Brandon Bryant (soreness) and Kacy Rodgers II were in street clothes during practice…RT Brandon Shell left practice early with an injury and Brent Qvale replaced him with the starters…In 1-on-1s, the offense and defense traded blows as Jermaine Kearse reeled in a deep ball from Josh McCown and emphatically tossed the ball in the air while Trumaine Johnson picked off McCown…Bilal Powell, who's shown flashes of explosion at camp, had a nifty one-handed snag in the flat from McCown during team…RB Thomas Rawls and LB Kevin Minter jawed after a couple hard runs and hits…Teddy Bridgewater closed practice against with a beautiful pitch-and-catch as Lucky Whitehead reeled in a touchdown in the back of the end zone while managing to keep both feet in bounds.