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Sam Darnold optimistic about returning after Jets' bye week, but still has obstacle to overcome

Jets quarterback Sam Darnold leaves the field after

Jets quarterback Sam Darnold leaves the field after losing to the Buffalo Bills on Sept. 8. Credit: Lee S. Weissman/Lee S. Weissman

Sam Darnold underwent tests Monday and has been cleared to do some light cardio this week. But there is still a big test before the Jets quarterback gets clearance to play football again after being diagnosed with mono.

Darnold said his enlarged spleen has shrunk a little bit, but it needs to get smaller. He will be tested again next Monday.

“My spleen right now isn’t where it needs to be in terms of coming back full go,” Darnold said on a conference call Monday afternoon. “It did go down a little bit. The size of it did shrink a little bit. So now I’m able to do some light cardio. Hopefully throughout this week it gets a little bit lower.”

Darnold said he still hasn’t been cleared to throw a football. He thinks that will come later in the week. But the Jets appear confident that Darnold will be able to play Oct. 6 against the Eagles in Philadelphia, their first game after this week’s bye.

The Jets waived quarterback David Fales on Monday after signing wide receiver Vyncint Smith off the Texans' practice squad. Fales, signed last week, backed up Luke Falk in Sunday’s 30-14 loss to the Patriots. The Jets letting Fales go is an indication they believe Darnold will play next weekend.

“That was the kind of the goal once I figured out I had this thing. That remains the goal today,” Darnold said.

Adam Gase threw in a little disclaimer, just in case Darnold is not fully cleared.

“I don’t want to jinx it,” Gase said. “He’s going to start doing cardio aspect of what he needs to do to build up. If everything looks really good . . . I just don’t want to get ahead of myself and say yes and all of a sudden there’s kind of some weird setback I don’t know about.”

The 0-3 Jets are banking on reinforcements to save their season. Gase said C.J. Mosley (groin) and Quinnen Williams (ankle) “are trending in the right direction” to play in Philadelphia after missing the last two games. The defense could use a boost, but the Jets' offense is in need of a huge lift.

Gase’s group has looked hapless. The Jets totaled just 105 yards Sunday, and haven’t scored a touchdown in nine quarters. The Jets have only one offense touchdown all year, a Darnold to Le’Veon Bell pass  in the third quarter of the season-opening loss to Buffalo. In the two games without Darnold, the Jets’ offense has produced one field goal.

“It would be nice to get '14' back,” Gase said. “That always helps things. He can make some bad things go away.

“I know he’s determined to really help get things turned around,” Gase added. “As long as our defense and special teams keep doing what they’re doing and we can get better on offense it should help us swing things in the other direction.”

Darnold alone won’t be able to right what’s wrong with the Jets. The offense sputtered in the opener with Darnold under center. But he’s obviously a big piece, and he has confidence in himself and his teammates that this season can be saved.

“We’re going to go on a little run here,” Darnold said. “It’s going to be fun. But it's going to take a lot of work.”

The Jets have plenty of things to correct, and it starts with the offensive line. The veteran group has not given any of the Jets' quarterbacks the protection they need, or opened holes for Bell.

“We need to fix some details in other spots as well,” Darnold said. “We’re not blind to that. It’s about going out there and going out in practice, in the meeting rooms, walk-throughs, being able to fix all that stuff and not being shy about it either. Not worry about hurting anyone’s feelings. It’s about getting this stuff right. We’re going to get it right. It’s just a matter of time.”

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