After missing two games with a strained right foot, Jets quarterback Sam Darnold’s status remains uncertain as the team begins to shift gears following its 27-13 loss to the Patriots Sunday.
“I'm not sure yet,” head coach Todd Bowles said of Darnold’s chances to practice this week. “He's getting better, so we'll see on Wednesday.”
Bowles wants to get Darnold invaluable playing experience, but the Jets won’t insert him back into the lineup until he is 100% healthy.
“The more a rookie plays, the better off he is,” said the fourth-year head coach. “You can't mistake the experience for not playing. The more he plays, the more he sees and the slower the game gets, and the faster he learns, the better off he will be.”
Veteran quarterback Josh McCown, who has mentored Darnold since the latter joined the Green & White in late April, shares a similar sentiment with Bowles.
“Well I think for a young guy, who understands that every time he's on the field that every rep counts and it's important, he absolutely is ready to be back out there,” McCown said. “But I also know he'll be smart and listen to the trainers and what they have to say.”
McCown is dealing with an ailment of his own after injuring his thumb against the Pats. The 39-year-old McCown said he is feeling better though and Bowles doesn’t expect him to miss practice time.
In his second start this season, McCown completed 26 of his 45 passes (58%) for 276 yards with one touchdown and one interception. The offense was particularly impressive in the first half as the unit drew first blood on a nine-play, 65-yard drive on its second possession that culminated in a 16-yard Jermaine Kearse touchdown. Heading into intermission tied 10-10, the group totaled 195 yards and converted 3-of-7 on third down (43%) while McCown completed 68% of his passes. However, the Jets couldn’t find the end zone in the second half and posted just three more points despite totaling 338 yards overall.
“We just didn't make enough plays,” McCown said. “I thought at times we moved the ball very well, but just didn't make the plays in the moments we needed to make them in and left a few out there. So, I think it was encouraging from the previous week to respond and move the football the way we did, but we have to put it in the end zone. We have to convert some of those third downs.
“Yesterday was one of those days that it's frustrating to watch the tape because you feel like you had some opportunity to put a lot more points up and we just didn't get it done.”
With left guard James Carpenter out with a shoulder injury, Spencer Long started in his place and Jonotthan Harrison got the nod at the pivot.
When Long signed with the Green & White in March, Bowles said he liked the 6’5”, 318-pounder’s position flexibility and he thought he did some good things Sunday. The fifth-year veteran, who started nine games at center this season, last played guard with the Redskins in 2015 and could see more time there in the upcoming weeks.
“For the first time, I think I played pretty solid, but there were obviously some things I need to clean up consistency wise,” Long said. “That’s just going to come with time, working on it and getting more reps under my belt. There are some things in pass protection I need to clean up, but for doing it in three days of practice in the last two or three years at guard, I was expecting it wasn’t going to be perfect.”