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Todd Bowles keeping Jets QB starter to himself

Sam Darnold and Josh McCown are both available and the coach says he's made up his mind but won't reveal it until game time Sunday.

Jets quarterback Josh McCown, shown here during a

Jets quarterback Josh McCown, shown here during a 27-13 loss to New England on Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018, has back and thumb injuries but had a full practice Friday and might get the start Sunday at Tennessee.   Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — The ball was spotted at the 10. Sam Darnold walked up behind the center, took the snap and dropped back. He appeared to be moving well, and he threw a strike to Quincy Enunwa in the left side of the end zone for the touchdown.

There was no actual running back there on Darnold’s play-action fake and no defenders. This was just a drill during the first half-hour of the Jets’ indoor practice Friday morning.

For the third straight day, Darnold practiced on only a limited basis, although Todd Bowles said he looked “good.” He’s listed as questionable for Sunday’s game at Tennessee after missing the last two games with a strained right foot.

Josh McCown emerged from Sunday’s 27-13 loss to New England with back and thumb injuries, but he finally practiced fully and had a clean space under “game status” on the injury report.

So will McCown or Darnold start at quarterback against the Titans? Bowles didn’t want to share the answer yet. “I’m kind of decided, but I’ll make it public on Sunday,” he said.

The Jets are 3-8, have lost five straight games and have scored only five touchdowns during the skid. McCown threw 45 times and got sacked twice against the Patriots. The Jets ran only 15 times. That left offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates open to second-guessing.

Isaiah Crowell, who carried only six times, came across that way after practice.  “I just feel like we’ve got to commit more to the run,” said Crowell, who set the franchise rushing record with 219 yards in the 34-16 Week 5 win over Denver. “I feel like we’d be doing better if we committed more to the run.”

Asked if the Jets have lost a smash-mouth identity, Crowell said, “I feel like we have, to be honest.”

Crowell said he has mentioned the need to run more to the coaching staff during games and added, “It is frustrating, but we’ve got to do what we can do to make plays and I guess encourage him to call more runs.”

Bates seemed to agree with that Thursday, saying: “I need to call more runs. I need to call better runs and we need to establish the run better.”

The Jets also need to develop their young passer. Darnold has thrown an NFL-worst 14 interceptions. Still, running back Elijah McGuire noticed that before he got hurt, Darnold wasn’t doubling down on every mistake. 

“Not making the same mistake twice is huge,” McGuire said, “because there’s always room for improvement, and by him learning from that, he will last a long time in this league.”

Bowles expects the game to slow down for Darnold when he’s an NFL sophomore.

“For any rookie, in the second year, it slows down mentally because that’s where the biggest learning curve is, regardless of position,” Bowles said. “So I’m sure next year will be slower because he’s been through it for a year.”

Regardless of whether it has been Darnold or McCown behind the center, the losing streak has expanded.

“I feel like it would be an easy time for people to just be depressed and start bickering with each other and being down and just having like a gloomy attitude around here,” defensive lineman Leonard Williams said. “But it’s just like everyone still comes in with a lot of passion. Everyone seems to be playing for something still.”

Notes & quotes: Receiver Robby Anderson (ankle) is questionable .  .  . Safety Marcus Maye (shoulder, thumb) is out. Asked if he could need surgery, Bowles said, “It’s possible, yeah.”

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