FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Day 3 of training camp for the Jets was the first day of full pads and of hitting, and there still was no sign of rookie quarterback Sam Darnold, the No. 3 pick in the draft, who hasn’t signed a contract and has not reported to camp.
That meant that for the third straight day, the Jets made do with only two quarterbacks in camp, which meant a lot of reps and a lot of throws for 39-year-old Josh McCown and 25-year-old Teddy Bridgewater.
“You’re just, literally, kind of more aware of every throw,’’ McCown said of the heavy workload thus far. “Even if I catch a ball and I’m throwing it back to somebody else, and it’s not a real rep, I toss it with my other hand. You have to be smart with how many throws — be more cognizant of how many throws you make.’’
The benefit of the heavy workload is that, well, you get that many more opportunities to work your way into a rhythm and show the coaches what you can do. And with McCown, Bridgewater and Darnold (eventually) competing to be the starting quarterback, more reps are a good thing.
“Yeah, you never complain about the reps,’’ Bridgewater said. “You actually take advantage of them, because it’s more work for you. Going against a defense like the one that we have, it’s a lot of complex looks and things like that, so the more the better. That’s the way we see it. You gain knowledge with each play.’’
For the third straight day, the two quarterbacks split the reps evenly in 11-on-11 and seven-on-seven play. On the first day of hitting, both started slowly and then improved. Unofficially, McCown was 7-for-12 with two touchdown passes and one “sack’’ in 11-on-11 action. He had one throwaway. He was 6-for-6 in seven-on-sevens.
Bridgewater was awful in seven-on-sevens, going 1-for-4 with a pick-6 by cornerback Derrick Jones. He was better in the 11-on-11s, going 13-for-18 (one throwaway) with two TDs, including the play of the day on the final play of practice. He threw a ball to the back corner of the end zone that was grabbed by a diving Tre McBride, who had a man on him.
“JB [offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates] called a great play, Tre executed at the line, beat the defender, and he knew that the ball was going to go to a spot and he beat the defender to that spot and came down with the catch,’’ Bridgewater said. “Great way to just walk off with the touchdown.’’
Of course, stats in a training camp practice are virtually meaningless, but the reps are significant, especially for Bridgewater, who is making his way back from a devastating knee injury that cost him nearly all of the previous two seasons. Each play he gets gives him the opportunity to learn things about a new offense and build chemistry with receivers he’s never played with before. If Darnold were in camp, Bridgewater would get fewer of those.
Darnold is slotted for a fully guaranteed four-year, $30.25- million contract, including $20.1 million in signing bonus money. The holdup reportedly is specific “offset’’ language that would come into play if the Jets cut him and he signed with another team.
ESPN reported that there is other funky language in the contract that could affect the guaranteed money if Darnold were to be fined or suspended for any reason.
The Jets have three practices this week, and then the Green and White scrimmage Saturday night at Rutgers. On Friday, Aug. 10, they will face the Atlanta Falcons at MetLife Stadium in their first preseason game.