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New York Jets should avoid rushing Sam Darnold back for Week 5

New York Jets (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
New York Jets (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
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The New York Jets are surely eager to have quarterback Sam Darnold return to action. But they should look at the bigger picture and avoid rushing him back for Week 5.

The New York Jets have dealt with countless injuries and absences of key players this season but none more significant and costly than that of quarterback Sam Darnold.

The Jets went into 2019 with high hopes regarding the season and the future. Much of that centered around the development of the team’s young signal-caller, Darnold.

However, a bout with mononucleosis has threatened to derail his development this season as the young quarterback has played in just one game so far this year. Fortunately, a return does appear to be imminent.

But how imminent, however, is something that is yet to be determined.

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Early optimistic timetables had Darnold returning as early as this upcoming Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles. The hope was that Darnold could use the Jets’ Week 4 bye to continue to heal up in preparation of a return.

Unfortunately, while Darnold has made significant progress during this time, it doesn’t seem that he’s on track to play Sunday. Or at least, it’s certainly far from a sure thing.

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Darnold has reportedly been cleared to participate in non-contact drills which means that he could start throwing footballs which is a good sign. But the fact that he still isn’t cleared for contact doesn’t bode well for his chances to play on Sunday.

Even if he is cleared later in the week, it seems unreasonable that his conditioning would be anywhere near the level required to play against the Eagles.

There appears to be doubt regarding his status. And if there is any doubt at all, the Jets shouldn’t risk rushing him back ahead of schedule.

This isn’t a sprain or a bruise that we’re talking about here. Mononucleosis could be a very serious issue and it’s not something that athletes want to rush back from.

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The illness causes the individual’s spleen to enlarge — something that’s a major problem in a contact sport like football. It isn’t worth the inherent risk to rush Darnold back if he isn’t 100% fully healthy and cleared for action.

Regardless of whether or not Darnold plays, the Jets will assuredly be major underdogs in their Week 5 matchup against the Eagles. It doesn’t matter if it’s Luke Falk, Sam Darnold, or the newly-signed Mike White under center, it will be difficult for the team to remain competitive this week.

But rather than risk further harm or keep hopes alive for a few more days, the Jets should just sit Darnold another week and allow him to further return to form at his own pace.

At any rate, this would allow Falk to continue receiving starting reps in practice as opposed to giving Darnold some starter work in non-contact drills.

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The reward does not exceed the risk in this case and the Jets would be wise to rest their young quarterback for at least another week.

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