FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — No one is happier than Le’Veon Bell that Sam Darnold is officially back.
Bell said he is excited about playing with Darnold on Sunday against the Cowboys, and that the quarterback’s presence can raise the spirits of an offense and a team that has been stuck in quicksand.
“Of course, just because we haven’t really played with him all season,” Bell said after practice Wednesday. “Him getting back in the huddle and him just calling plays in practice, just hearing his voice and getting that normal cadence that everybody’s normally used to hearing, it’s like, ‘Oh yeah, Sam’s back. We ready.’
“Ain’t nobody more excited than me, not the coaches, not the fans, nobody. I’m ready for him to be back.”
Darnold was medically cleared Tuesday from his bout with mono and returned to practice Wednesday. This time it’s for good after everyone got a little tease last week when Darnold practiced Wednesday and Thursday, but then learned he wasn’t cleared for contact.
Adam Gase said Darnold doesn’t have to be tested anymore and doesn’t have to be monitored. He’s full go when the 0-4 Jets try to win their first game of the season Sunday.
“Any time your starting quarterback comes back, guys are going to be excited,” Gase said. “The good thing is the way he looks at it as he wants to come in and do his job. I don’t think guys are looking at as now that he’s back all will be all right. They know we got a lot to clean up.”
The Jets have the worst offense in the league. They have scored just 17 points on offense, 4.25 per game. Darnold won’t suddenly make them the Chiefs or Rams of 2018, but he should make a difference. He definitely has the trust and belief of the Jets best player.
Bell said “it was a little disappointing” when he learned late last week that Darnold wouldn’t be able to play against the Eagles. He doesn’t want to put too much on Darnold, who hasn’t played since the Jets’ season-opening loss to Buffalo on Sept. 8. But Bell believes Darnold will have an impact.
“He’s a playmaker,” Bell said. “He made a lot of plays in college, last year, his rookie year. Him following up this year it’s going to fun. We still haven’t seen everything he can do yet. He’s still a young player and he’s only going to continue to get better.
“I’m just ready for him to get in the game and make some plays. That’s what he does. He’s a special player. I’ve seen it all during camp, I’ve seen it in the preseason, the first game, so it’s going to be fun.”
Darnold threw the Jets’ only touchdown pass of the season — to Bell — in Week 1. Bell hasn’t had a touchdown since. The offense has only scored one.
Teams have been able to key in on Bell, especially with Luke Falk as the starter the last two weeks. The offense has been predictable, relying on Bell to do almost everything. Darnold should be able to spread the ball around, which this offense needs.
“He can help us tremendously,” Bell said. “He’s the quarterback. He’s a guy who’s going to touch the ball every play, getting guys in position, throwing the ball downfield, just getting the playmakers the ball. He’s going to make his fair share of plays. So it’s going to be fun.”