Will Sam Darnold get a chance to vanquish the ghosts of his scary Monday night game against the New England Patriots last year?
Darnold, who has been suffering from a sore throwing shoulder that caused him to miss two games earlier this season, returned to practice on a limited basis Friday. After practice, the Jets quarterback was noncommittal when asked about his chances of playing against the Patriots on Monday night, saying only that if he feels healthy enough to play, he will be on the field.
Darnold clearly was in pain last Sunday after he took a hit to his shoulder on a scramble in the Jets’ 35-9 loss to Kansas City. An MRI revealed there was no further damage to the shoulder, which he sprained in Week 4.
Darnold sat out practice on Thursday to get some extra rest. Earlier in the week, coach Adam Gase said he was optimistic that Darnold will be able to play Monday night.
"It’s just really how he feels when he’s throwing it," Gase said when asked what the Jets were looking for in practice. "Last time we were kind of at this phase [with the injury earlier in the year], all the throws looked fine, he had plenty of zip on the ball and he didn’t have any issues as far as losing velocity on balls. It’s just going to be about how he feels when he’s throwing."
The Jets are 0-8, but Darnold and Gase received votes of confidence on Tuesday from general manager Joe Douglas.
As ugly as the season has been for Darnold and the team, the lowest moment of his pro career likely came in last year’s Monday night game against the Patriots. Darnold turned the ball over five times in that Oct. 21 game. In the second quarter, after committing his third turnover, Darnold, who was wearing a microphone, went to the sideline and said, "I’m seeing ghosts."
The comment, which implied that he was confused by the Patriots’ defensive schemes, was heard by a national television audience and went viral.
The Patriots (2-5) are a different team from the one that tormented him last year, and Darnold intimated that he is a different player.
"It is what it is," he said. "I was able to move on pretty fast. It was a long time ago. But yeah, from where that game happened until now, I feel like I’ve grown a ton as a player and matured a lot."
Even though the Jets’ struggles this season have been a group picture, Darnold has received the brunt of the criticism. Fans have grown weary of waiting for him to become the franchise quarterback they thought he could be.
"I think he’s done a good job of staying in the moment," Gase said when asked how his quarterback has dealt with the pressure. " . . . I know it’s not easy when you are in that position when your record is what it is right now. Things haven’t gone quite as well as you wanted them to. But he’s done a good job of taking it one week at a time and trying to find ways to get better."
Injury updates. Wide receiver Jamison Crowder (groin) practiced on a limited basis. Defensive tackle Quinnen Williams (hamstring) did not practice. Wide receiver Breshad Perriman is in the final stage of a concussion protocol and could be ready Monday. Wide receiver Vyncint Smith (groin) did not practice after hurting his groin on Thursday.