FLORHAM PARK, N. J – Jets quarterback Sam Darnold had a joke in his rookie development this week when it was revealed Wednesday that he had strained his foot in Sunday's loss to the Miami Dolphins.
Darnold has never left the game – his worst of the season – and has never offered any indication of a specific injury after the game or during a conference call with journalists on Monday. But on Wednesday, he trained in civilian clothes with a black boot on his right foot.
"I thought I was fine out of the game," said Darnold. "I went through the protocol, I did some tests and something was slightly different than usual."
Jets' coach, Todd Bowles, reported no damage to Darnold in his conference call with journalists on Monday. On Wednesday he said he had not received an injury report before calling.
"Nothing was reported that morning," he said.
Regardless of this, the appearance of Darnold in a Wednesday boot is an alarming blow to the Jets, who took Darnold with choice no. 3 in the draft of this year. They lost three in a row and were set for a favorable home match-up against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, a game that would present their 21-year-old franchise quarterback the chance to recover after two tough games on the road.
Bowles would not have ruled out Darnold for Sunday and said the operation was not on the table at the time. But if Darnold does not practice again Thursday and Friday, Bowles said it was a "foregone conclusion" that the 39-year backup, Josh McCown, would start.
"You're ripped because your friend and teammate can not go," McCown said. "I do not wish it to anyone, but at the same time, as a professional, you have to serve your team in that role and play winning football, which is why you play this game."
Darnold was named the starter for Week 1 after beating McCown in the training camp. But his beginner season has been full of ups and downs. His four interceptions at a loss to the Dolphins on Sunday gave him a N.F.L.-high 14 above all.
He was not able to identify the cause of the injury or when it happened, saying only that he felt a little "scratched" after the game. Darnold was fired four times and hit seven.
The injury is more adverse, he said, and part of the learning process of the chords as a novice in the N.F.L.
"We do not want to rush things," said Darnold. "This is something we do not want to do, I can not wait to get back on the field with my boys, but at the same time I have to take care of my body".