NEW YORK (AP) — Sam Darnold hopes to be under center for the New York Jets next Monday night despite some concern over his sore right shoulder.
The starting quarterback was going to have an MRI and get a second medical opinion on the shoulder as a precaution after Darnold took a hard hit during New York's 35-9 loss at Kansas City on Sunday. He missed two games last month after spraining the AC joint in the shoulder against Denver on Oct. 1.
“I woke up and it feels better than I thought it would, honestly,” Darnold said during a conference call Monday. “Right now, I'm just taking it one day at a time.”
Darnold scrambled for 5 yards early in the fourth quarter against the Chiefs, but stayed upright — rather than slide — as he absorbed hits from Tershawn Wharton and Tanoh Kpassagnon. The quarterback grimaced as he got up and appeared to be favoring his right arm. He had his shoulder checked out by trainers on the sideline before returning to the game on New York's next series.
“The hit definitely didn't help,” Darnold said. “I should've slid and not taken the hit. Obviously, I'm going to continue to learn from my mistakes like that.”
Coach Adam Gase said the quarterback will be evaluated throughout the week. He was uncertain as to whether Darnold will be ready to start against the AFC East-rival New England Patriots at home, but was optimistic.
“We're just doing our due diligence on this,” Gase said. "We're making sure we're kind of double-checking everything and making sure he's good. He's a little sore today. The indications right now are that we're in good shape, but we're going to keep working through this and make sure we cover everything before we say anything about what's going on this week.
“I'm hoping he's good to go to practice.”
With the Jets 0-8 for the first time since 1996, some have wondered why the team doesn't just shut Darnold down for several weeks and not take any unnecessary risks with the 23-year-old quarterback.
“If we were worried about there being damage, that’s why we’re making sure that we’re doing all the right things by not only him, but us,” Gase said. “I mean, Sam wants to be out there, he wants to be out there. That’s a big part of it, too, and that’s why we’re making sure that everybody’s aligned on this. And we need him out there — he gives us the best chance to win on Sundays and he knows that.”
Darnold has struggled mightily, though, along with the rest of the Jets' offense. He threw for just 133 yards at Kansas City a week after having just 120 yards passing — the second-lowest total of his career — against Buffalo.
For the season, Darnold has thrown for just three touchdowns with six interceptions in six games. His 65.9 quarterback rating is last in the NFL among quarterbacks that have made at least three starts, and is the lowest of his career.
Darnold's future with the team beyond this season is also uncertain. With the Jets currently in position to have the No. 1 pick in next April's draft, New York will have to seriously consider taking Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence — while closing the door on Darnold after just three seasons.
Darnold insists he's not thinking about any of that these days. He just wants to be healthy enough to be on the field.
“I just want to play every game I'm capable of playing,” Darnold said. “If I miss a game and I'm capable of playing in it, that's my worst nightmare. I don't want to do that to this team.”
NOTES: Gase said WR Breshad Perriman remains in the concussion protocol, "but he's moving to that next stage where we could see him at practice moving to that next part. ... WR Jamison Crowder, who has missed the past two games with a groin injury, will be evaluated throughout the week. ... Gase said defensive lineman Quinnen Williams could miss some practice time with a hamstring injury. ... C Connor McGovern might sit out a day or two with a banged-up knee. ... K Sam Ficken has missed the past two games with an injured right groin and will be evaluated through the week. Sergio Castillo has made four of five field goals — with his only miss a block by the Chiefs — in Ficken's absence.
More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL