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Jets QB Sam Darnold sits out team's first practice after bye

(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun, File)

By DENNIS WASZAK Jr.

AP Pro Football Writer

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) Sam Darnold is out of his walking boot and has started jogging. Next step for the New York Jets quarterback: getting back on the field.

Darnold sat out the team's first practice after its bye-week break while he continues to recover from a foot strain.

The rookie wore a green Jets cap and sweats as practice began Monday, and mostly watched from the side while Josh McCown and Davis Webb threw passes in individual drills.

"The foot is really good," Darnold said, adding that he's experiencing no pain. "I feel really good. Like I said last week, just following protocol right now, but it feels really good. (I've) been walking around on it fine. It's just stable progressions throughout the week, I think."

Darnold was injured during the Jets' 13-6 loss at Miami on Nov. 4. McCown started in his place the following week, a 41-10 defeat at home to Buffalo.

It's uncertain if Darnold will be able to start against New England on Sunday.

"Right now, it's status quo," coach Todd Bowles said. "Day to day, week to week."

The Jets aren't required to submit an injury report until Wednesday, after the first official practice of the week is held. Bowles said he and the team would have to see if Darnold might be able to participate, but insisted he had no gut feeling.

"Not at this time, I don't," Bowles said. "Honestly, I don't."

If Darnold can't go, it would be McCown starting against the Patriots at home. The 39-year-old veteran struggled in his season debut, along with the rest of the offense, in the loss to the Bills. McCown was 17 of 34 for 135 yards and two interceptions.

Darnold hopes to be able to practice at some point this week, but insists he'll follow the direction of head athletic trainer John Mellody and his staff. That might mean sitting out a second straight game and missing his first matchup with Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and Co.

"I think the idea of going up against him and the Patriots, Coach Belichick, all those guys, it's a cool thing," Darnold said, "especially with me growing up in the era where they really controlled the whole NFL, for the most part.

"So it's really cool to be able to have a chance to go up against them, if I get the opportunity this weekend."

Darnold, the No. 3 overall draft pick this year, leads the NFL with 14 interceptions and struggled in his past three games before the injury - including being picked off four times against the Dolphins. That has done nothing to shake the confidence of his coaches or teammates.

The 21-year-old signal caller also remains positive about the experience he has gained in his first season.

"I had some time to think about it," Darnold said. "I thought throughout the year I've been progressing and getting better. Yeah, the Miami game, it wasn't a step in the wrong direction, (but) it was just a little bump in the road, I think. I think other than that, I've been continuing to improve every single week, and I'm just going to try to do that if I get the chance to play."

After a whirlwind of a transition from college to the draft to the NFL during the past several months, Darnold used the bye-week break to catch his breath and spend some time with his friends and visiting Manhattan.

That meant even passing on extra film study for a few days.

"When I was here doing rehab and all of that stuff, I was watching film a little bit, but for the most part it was a good time to get away from it, reset my mind," Darnold said. "I knew when I got back today, I was going to get after it."

Teams have different views on how to handle rookie quarterbacks , and whether it's best to start them right away or have them sit a bit and absorb things from the sideline.

Darnold won the starting job out of training camp and was under center in Week 1 for the Jets. Given his struggles - two TDs, seven INTs - in his past three games, some fans and media thought perhaps the injury might have been a blessing for Darnold so he could watch a bit rather than play.

"No, I want to be out there," Darnold said. "I want to be out there playing with the guys, but I think the biggest thing for me was to just watch Josh go about a game week. I think watching him on the field, watching him on the practice field helped me out a lot. So in terms of that, it was good.

"But I definitely want to be out there with my guys."

NOTES: WR Robby Anderson (ankle) and LG James Carpenter (undisclosed) were among those who did not dress for practice. C Spencer Long (knee/finger) participated after missing New York's previous game. ... The Jets signed DL Destiny Vaeao to the practice squad. Vaeao spent the past two-plus seasons with Philadelphia after being signed as an undrafted free agent out of Washington State in 2016.

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Updated November 19, 2018

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