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On 21st birthday, Sam Darnold is all business at Jets’ OTA

QB Sam Darnold celebrates his 21st birthday by

QB Sam Darnold celebrates his 21st birthday by working on his game at the Jets' facility in Florham Park. Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — So what did Sam Darnold do on his 21st birthday?

The Jets’ first-round draft pick worked on his game during Tuesday’s organized team activities and wasn’t planning on getting any drinks to celebrate the special day.

On the field, Darnold had an uneven performance, getting picked off by safety Jamal Adams on a misread. He fumbled a snap from the shotgun when the ball was hiked directly at his knees. He also overthrew a wide open Chris Herndon. Overall, though, Darnold displayed good arm strength and a quick release during the two-hour practice.

“I’m making a ton of strides, but at the same time I’m not exactly where I want to be,” Darnold said. “I know it’s going to take time and it’s a process. I’m really excited about where I’m going right now.”

Veteran quarterback Josh McCown took the majority of first-team reps and was followed by Teddy Bridgewater. Darnold was third in the rotation.

“I feel like he’s kept a pretty good, cool head,” linebacker Avery Williamson said of Darnold. “Seems like he’s starting to get pretty focused and working hard. I feel like he’s getting better and he’s made some great throws out there.”

The biggest adjustment for Darnold is calling plays from the huddle and making adjustments at the line of scrimmage. At USC, Darnold got the plays from the sidelines and didn’t have to make too many reads once the ball was snapped. Darnold also was limited in changing the plays at the line of scrimmage in college.

With the Jets, he’s getting two plays in the huddle and sometimes has to make two or three reads before getting rid of the ball. Of course, the game is much faster than it was in college, something Darnold expected.

“It’s been awesome to be able to call plays in the huddle, it’s something I hadn’t done in a few years,” he said. “Being able to look everyone in the eye, call the play and go to the line of scrimmage with two plays and be able to kill a certain play or alert to another play. There’s different ways to call plays, too. It’s all a learning experience. But it’s something that I’m improving on.”

Darnold said he has no real plans for his birthday, just staying in his hotel room watching television and studying tape of practices. Darnold said he gets to bed early and outside of attending country singer Luke Bryan’s concert last Saturday at MetLife Stadium he hasn’t even ventured into Manhattan yet.

“I’ve just been here,” Darnold said. “It’s been awesome being able to spend time in Florham Park, the Jersey area, Morristown, it’s been really cool.”

He added: “I don’t have class. I’m studying every single day in the film room or practice field. In regards to that just being able to spend time watching football playing football, it’s awesome to come in here every single day and to it for a living.”

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