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What should Sam Darnold have taken away from PFHOF game?

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 03: USC quarterback Sam Darnold talks with Ken Zampese of the Cleveland Browns during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 3, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 03: USC quarterback Sam Darnold talks with Ken Zampese of the Cleveland Browns during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 3, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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New York Jets rookie quarterback Sam Darnold could learn a thing or two from the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game. It’s all about making the most out of preseason action.

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The preseason kicked off with a celebratory game to honor the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2018 inductees. This Thursday night matchup, between the Chicago Bears and Baltimore Ravens, was the first of four opportunities for players to audition for a roster spot. Of all the names that took the field, all eyes were set on the anticipated arrival of Lamar Jackson.

Jackson, a former Heisman-trophy winner, dominated college football as the signal-caller for Louisville. Better known for his elusiveness as a runner, pro scouts were more intrigued with the option of converting him to a wideout at the next level. Insulted by the proposition, Jackson elected to skip drills in the combine, such as the 40-yard dash, to primarily show his ability as a passer.

Determined a team would provide him with an opportunity to play quarterback in the NFL, Jackson took a gamble on himself – it panned out.

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The Ravens moved back into the first round to draft Jackson with the very last pick, No. 32. With Joe Flacco and Robert Griffin III already inked to deals, the Louisville product must impress this preseason if he hopes to see the field, under center, in 2018.

Thursday night didn’t exactly impact the rookie’s value as much as fans hoped. Jackson went 4/10 for 33 yards to pair with one touchdown and one interception. With his legs, he rushed eight times for 25 yards although being sacked three times. Showing signs of potential, Jackson also showed signs of growing pains.

Arguably the more viable option on Thursday night, Griffin showed he still has what it takes to command an NFL offense. He completed 7/11 passes for 58 yards and threw one touchdown and an interception as well. Once known as a runner himself, Griffin used his legs sparingly for nine yards on three attempts.

What does this all mean for the Jets?

Well, Gang Green finds themselves in a very similar situation. They have three quarterbacks on the roster – a veteran who looks to own the starting job, a veteran riddled with injuries, and a rookie with high expectations. Josh McCown, Teddy Bridgewater, and Sam Darnold could all learn a little from the Pro Football Hall of Fame game.

In particular, Darnold has publicly spoken on his desire to be the starter in New York. If he hopes to do so, he’ll need to impress much more than Jackson did in the first week of preseason. Known as more of a pocket-passer, Darnold must display poise, accuracy, and the ability to make the players around him better.

Whereas Jackson completed 40 percent of his passes and Griffin 64 percent, Darnold should look to flip the script on his fellow teammate, Bridgewater. If he truly aims to win the starting role over McCown, the path begins with going through the former Viking.

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The Jets open the preseason on Friday, Aug. 10 at home against the Atlanta Falcons. With McCown not expected to get many reps, if any, the battle for second-string will follow. From there, we can speak more on the possibility of starting Darnold Week 1 but once his number is called in preseason action, he must shine with everything he must execute on.

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