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With ailing shoulder, Jets' Sam Darnold still wants to play through it

New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold in the

New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold in the first half against Kansas City on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. Credit: AP/Jeff Roberson

Sam Darnold’s shoulder is bothering him again. But he doesn’t want to shut it down and rest it, even with the Jets careening toward a winless season.

"I'm focused on playing as much as I can and not missing any games," the third-year quarterback said on a conference call Monday. "I just want to play every game that I’m capable of playing. If I miss a game and I’m capable of playing in it, that’s my worst nightmare and I don’t want to do that to this team."

Darnold, who missed two games in October with a sprained AC joint, aggravated his right shoulder after taking a hard hit in Sunday’s 35-9 loss to Kansas City.

Coach Adam Gase said Darnold would undergo an MRI, and the Jets would seek a second opinion to make sure he can continue to play. Darnold felt sore on Monday, but better than he expected.

"That hit definitely didn’t help," Darnold said. "I should have slid, not taken the hit. I’m going to continue to learn from my mistakes. I woke up and It feels better than I thought honestly."

The Jets play New England next Monday then have a bye week. The sensible thing would be for Darnold to miss the game. He then would have almost a three-week break between games and could rest his shoulder.

But Gase said the Jets are doing their "due diligence" and "double checking" everything to make sure there isn’t risk of further damage if Darnold plays.

"We’re making sure that we’re doing all the right things not only by him but by us," Gase said. "Sam wants to be out there. That’s a big part of it too. That’s why we’re making sure everybody’s aligned by this.

"We need him out there. He gives us the best chance to win on Sundays."

The Jets are 0-8 and haven’t scored an offensive touchdown in two of their last three games. Darnold hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass since Week 3.

Many view the rest of this season as an audition for Darnold, who might be in his final games as a Jet. Darnold doesn’t see it that way, though.

"For me it’s really doing everything I can to put this team in a position to score points," he said. "We’re not executing well enough in the red zone. That’s why we’re settling for field goals. We got to do a better job of that.

"I’m taking it one day at a time, making sure we get better and put ourselves in a better position to score. I put that on myself. I got to make good reads and place the ball in a position where our guys can go make plays."

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