NEW YORK — Sam Darnold and the New York Jets will need to wait a few more days before they know if he has a shot at playing next Sunday.
The quarterback has a sprained right shoulder that could limit him at practice — if he's able to throw at all — when the team begins its on-field preparations for Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals.
“I feel good,” Darnold said during a video call Monday. “Right now, just kind of taking it day by day. You know, it keeps getting better each day. So, I’m excited to see where my progress is come Wednesday. And we’ll see what we do there.”
Darnold sprained the AC joint in his throwing shoulder last Thursday night when he was sacked late in the first quarter by Denver's Alexander Johnson. The third-year quarterback stayed in for one more play and handed the ball off before heading to the locker room to be examined.
He appeared to have avoided serious injury when he came back into the game during the Jets' next offensive series. But it's unclear whether he'll be healthy enough to play against the Cardinals. The team says Darnold's status hasn't changed since Friday — when coach Adam Gase said "anything's on the table" — and it will see how the shoulder is feeling Wednesday.
“You have things like adrenaline and different things like that,” Darnold said of being able to return to the game. “So for me, it’s just, again, taking it day by day and understand what the doctors are saying and then seeing where we are Wednesday, Thursday, and then, you know, obviously Sunday.”
Darnold was unsure if the injury was a Grade I sprain, which is the least serious but could still sideline an athlete a few weeks. He said he had a similar injury to his left shoulder in high school and didn't miss any time, but that was to his non-throwing arm.
The 23-year-old Darnold will have to try to balance his competitiveness with being smart about his health.
“It really does depend kind of on what the doctors say,” he said. “What they think can happen in the future in terms of further injury or if, you know, this can have a lingering effect if I do hurt it even more. So there’s still some discussions that need to be had there. But, you know, again, for me, the most important thing is playing football.”
If Darnold misses the game, Joe Flacco would likely get the start in his place. Darnold had to sit out three games as a rookie because of a sprained foot and three more last season because of mononucleosis, so he doesn't want that trend to continue.
“Your best ability as a quarterback is your availability,” he said. “I’ve always said that and I believe in that. I always want to do everything I can to not miss any games.”
As for the hit that injured him, Darnold took the high road. Johnson flung the quarterback down to the turf at MetLife Stadium, but wasn't penalized for the play — although some thought it might have warranted one.
“Obviously, I held onto the ball too long,” Darnold said. “I felt like I could have either ran it or thrown it away. I mean, it’s football. He tackled me.”
NOTES: The Jets signed QB Mike White to the practice squad after releasing him from the active roster last week. ... New York cut RB Kalen Ballage, who had nine catches for 67 yards and 13 yards rushing on three carries in three games but blew a few blocking assignments against Denver.
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Dennis Waszak Jr., The Associated Press