Sam Darnold of the New York Jets jogs off the field...

Sam Darnold of the New York Jets jogs off the field against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on Nov. 1, 2020. Credit: Getty Images/Jamie Squire

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Shoulder soreness kept Sam Darnold out of practice Thursday, but Adam Gase sounded optimistic that he will start Monday night against the Patriots.

"Right now, I feel pretty good about it," Gase said.

After facing New England, the Jets (0-8) have a bye. If Darnold were to miss Monday night’s game, it would give him nearly a full three weeks to rest his right shoulder because the Jets next play on Nov. 22.

But Darnold said this week that his "worst nightmare" would be to sit out a game if he’s physically able to play.

"It’s going to take a lot for him to stay out of this game," Gase said.

Darnold missed two games earlier this season because of a sprained AC joint in his throwing shoulder. He aggravated it in Sunday’s 35-9 loss to the Kansas City after taking a hard hit while trying to run for a first down.

Darnold, who said he should have slid and avoided contact, clearly was in pain but didn’t want to come out of the lopsided game.

An MRI this week showed no structural damage to the shoulder, Gase said. The Jets just wanted to give Darnold one more day to rest it. Gase believes he will be able to participate in practice Friday.

The Jets will go over different situations and red-zone scenarios in practice Friday. Gase wants to make sure Darnold feels comfortable and comes out of that without feeling additional soreness.

"It’s going to be about if something doesn’t feel right when we do get him out there," Gase said. "I think his mindset is it will take something not feeling right for him not to play."

The extra day off before the Monday night game should help Darnold, but Gase said even if the game were on Sunday, he would have a chance to play.

If Darnold can’t play, Joe Flacco will start. He replaced Darnold for the two games he missed.

It’s been a rough year for the Jets and their offense. They have thrown only four touchdown passes. Flacco threw the last one, and that was three weeks ago.

Despite being 7.5-point underdogs to New England, the Jets have a chance against Bill Belichick’s struggling team. The Patriots are 2-5 and have lost four straight games for the first time since 2002.

The Patriots could be vulnerable, but the Jets have to be able to get the ball in the end zone. They’ve totaled one touchdown in the last three games and one passing touchdown in the past five.

If Darnold plays, he could have his starting receiver group together for the first time all season.

Yes, the Jets have teased their fans with that before. But this could be the week that Jamison Crowder, Breshad Perriman and Denzel Mims play their first game together.

Crowder, who missed the last two weeks with a groin injury, did some strength and conditioning work on the side on Thursday.

Perriman is progressing to the next phase in the concussion protocol and was a limited participant in practice Thursday. He wore a red jersey, meaning he can’t be hit. Perriman has a chance to play Monday after missing last week’s game.

Mims made his NFL debut two weeks ago and had two good first halves, catching six passes for 84 yards. However, he came up empty in the second half of both games.

"You have to talk to Coach about that," Mims said. "I just do what I’m asked. Whatever they need me to do, clear out a guy, make a block, I’m going to do it. I care about the ball, but I really don’t. I just want to win. I just want to do everything I can to help this team win."

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