Sam Darnold might be back sooner than the Jets originally thought — perhaps as soon as a week from Sunday, coach Adam Gase said on Friday.
Darnold, who will miss Sunday’s game against the Chargers in Los Angeles with a strained AC joint in his right shoulder, could return on Nov. 29 against Miami.
"He’s doing better," Gase said. "He’s doing good. I think he’s feeling better. I think we’ve got a good shot for the next game. He’s progressing in the right direction. We’ll just kind of see how this weekend goes and how he feels Monday/Tuesday. Then we’ll be able to know on Wednesday."
In his most recent public comments about his injury on Monday, Darnold made it seems as if his absence was going to continue indefinitely.
"You start thinking in terms of just longevity and how I can further injure the shoulder," Darnold said.
Gase called his third-year quarterback "week-to-week."
But a good week in a throwing program has Gase thinking Darnold could return sooner than expected.
"I’m trying to keep it up – trying to be optimistic," Gase said.
Darnold injured his shoulder Oct. 1 against the Broncos. He missed the next two games and then aggravated the injury against Kansas City on Nov. 1. He tried to practice before the winless Jets’ last game against New England on Nov. 9, but he didn’t feel right and didn’t play.
"For me, he’s really honest on how he feels," Gase said. "Last week, or two weeks ago, when he was saying it just didn’t feel right – it’s hard to get him to say something like that. It has to be legit and something’s going on. When he starts saying, ‘Yeah, I feel better and strong and I feel like things are going in the right direction,’ that gives me confidence because he’s not one that’s just going to randomly say something unless he feels better or he doesn’t feel as good."
On Monday, Darnold said: "I’m very confident that I’ll play this year. It’s making sure that when I do come back, I’m 100 percent, so when I land on it or get hit, that it’s not getting reinjured . . . The biggest thing right now is giving it time. AC sprains, it’s something you just got to give time. That’s what I’m doing right now."
Joe Flacco will make his fourth start of the season on Sunday. The opposing quarterback will be rookie Justin Herbert, who has impressed Gase with a 19-6 touchdown-to-interception ratio for the 2-7 Chargers.
"Doing a good job of using the guys around him, getting those guys legit 50/50 balls that they’re coming down with quite a bit," Gase said of Herbert. "Doing a good job of not turning the ball over. Really using their system to his advantage. He understands what they’re doing. He’s not afraid to throw the ball away. He’s not afraid to pull it down and run with it when he has to. . .. When you look at his touchdown to interception ratio, that’s pretty impressive for a rookie."