When Sam Darnold returns from his multiple weeks out to try and save the smoldering ruins of the 0-4 New York Jets’ season, his stated preference is to not die on the field. Seems fair.
As a means to that end, Darnold will sporting customized padding designed by an outside company to protect his spleen for the rest of the season, according to NFL.com. An enlarged spleen is a common side effect of mononucleosis — which has kept Darnold out for weeks — and worries about the vulnerable organ are what kept the quarterback out last week.
Darnold was recently cleared to play in Week 6 against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.
The quarterback reportedly went through multiple fittings to find the right way to protect his midsection. The pads are designed by the same company that was enlisted to make a flak jacket for Cam Newton in 2015 after a preseason rib injury.
There were initial hopes that Darnold could have returned in Week 5 against the Philadelphia Eagles, but concerns about the spleen kept him sidelined and the Jets lost their fourth straight game 31-6.
Jets have been miserable without Darnold
The Jets have been simply putrid with Darnold out and back-up Trevor Siemian out for the season after a Week 2 leg injury. The team’s scoring average of 9.8 points per game ranks second-to-last in the league behind only the Miami Dolphins.
Third-string quarterback Luke Falk has zero touchdowns, three interceptions, 138.7 passing yards per game in three appearances (two starts). The pads might help protect Darnold’s spleen, but the bigger issue might be that the team has allowed Falk to be sacked 16 times in that span.
Darnold returning won’t fix everything for the team, and its 0-4 hole is probably too deep to reach the playoffs from at this point. However, the sophomore quarterback is still the franchise’s future, and all hopes of returning to respectability depend on getting him back on the field and taking another step forward in his career.
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