Sam Darnold toughed out a shoulder injury in Thursday night’s loss to the Denver Broncos, but he might not be able to replicate the same effort in the weeks ahead.
Jets coach Adam Gase told reporters the quarterback has a shoulder sprain for which the team is still determining the best course of action.
“I think anything’s on the table right now,” Gase said of Darnold’s status during a Friday conference call. “I haven’t really had a chance to talk to him in detail; Just really, when I saw him, it was more about how he felt right now. … We just need to make sure that we lay everything out and kind of see where we go from here and what’s best for him, not just next week but long term.”
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported, per a source, later Friday that Darnold suffered an AC joint sprain, and that while it’s too early to tell how long the QB will miss, practicing while in pain would be a major issue.
Darnold suffered the injury late in the first quarter Thursday night when he executed a run fake, dropped to pass, attempted to escape the rush and was spun down by Broncos linebacker A.J. Johnson, who slammed Darnold down on his right shoulder.
Darnold remained in for one more play, handing off to Frank Gore before removing himself from the game. Veteran Joe Flacco made his first appearance as a Jet, taking five snaps in place of Darnold before the starter returned to finish the game, completing 23 of 42 passes for 230 yards, all while throwing with the sprained shoulder.
Gase said Darnold “doesn’t feel real great today,” which comes as little surprise after seeing the impact Darnold sustained on his throwing shoulder.
It is encouraging to see Gase mention the importance of Darnold’s long-term health, which is likely to not include the coach, who at 0-4 is very much on the hot seat. Darnold is, after all, the franchise quarterback, the most important player on the roster for the organization’s future. Rushing him back in a season that is at best an uphill climb from here wouldn’t be the most prudent decision.
Injury issues have stretched beyond Darnold as well, with first-round tackle Mekhi Becton attempting to play through a shoulder issue before ultimately retiring due to what Gase said was a lack of necessary strength to perform adequately. Becton entered the game in place of Chuma Edoga, who left early in the first quarter with an injury of his own.
Gase said there was no risk for further damage to Becton’s shoulder, which he’d initially injured in a Week 3 loss. When Edoga left, Becton was inserted in an emergency situation, and may have cost himself future participation.
Things aren’t looking good on many fronts for these Jets, but the loss of two key players certainly doesn’t help. We’ll see what this means for the weeks ahead.
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