Jets' Darnold Is Still 'Very Confident' He'll Play Again This Season Despite Enduring Shoulder Injury

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After Sam Darnold missed his third game of the season, heading into the Jets' bye week, the quarterback's right shoulder injury was considered day-to-day. 

Now, with Darnold already ruled out for Sunday's Week 11 matchup with the Los Angeles Chargers, head coach Adam Gase called the situation "week-to-week."

"As far as I know, right now, this is what we're doing this week," Gase said on a conference call Monday, revealing Joe Flacco would start for New York. "Next week, it could be different to where we get him in practice. I don't want to make any predictions, but we're hoping we can get him back as soon as he's ready to go."

Darnold, who aggravated a sprained AC joint in his throwing shoulder on Nov. 1 and hasn't played since, will be forced to sit for the fourth time this season. His inability to play this week, however, isn't keeping the young quarterback from staying confident that he can be back on the field with his teammates before the end of the year. 

"I'm very confident that I'll play this year," he said on a conference call Monday. "It's just making sure that when I do come back, I'm 100 percent so that when I land on it or get hit, that it's not getting re-injured."

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In other words, the starting quarterback of the 0-9 Jets is out indefinitely. 

Placement on the injured reserve isn't on the table yet for Darnold and the hope is that the 23-year-old can return in Week 12. Considering the fact that Darnold was ruled out six days in advance of New York's next game, coming off a bye week, this might be an extended stay on the sideline. 

"I think it's the smart decision not to play," Darnold added on Monday. "I've given it thought and it's just gotta heal. It's got to have time and that was kind of our mindset."

As was the case in this past week, Darnold articulated to the Jets' coaches and medical staff that he still wasn't feeling right in his shoulder. Gase explained that the "consensus" among those inside and outside of the organization was that rest and slowly easing into a modified throwing program was the best bet going forward.

Until Darnold is back to throwing at full strength and without discomfort, he'll be recuperating and allowing the injury to run its course.

"I think we're just trying to make sure his strength is where it needs to be for him to go out, practice, make the throws that he wants to be able to make," Gase said. "Instead of him feeling any kind of struggling in doing what he wants and needs to do down in and down out. So that's where we're at right now, we just thought this was the best thing to do as we finish these last seven games up to get him back as soon as possible."

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Darnold is 11-21 in 32 career starts over his three seasons with New York since being selected third overall in the 2018 NFL Draft. If he can't get back on the field this season, and the Jets go on to secure the top pick in next spring's draft, it may very well be time to move on from the first-rounder. 

In the meantime, Darnold is trying to block out the noise and speculation about his future. He believes that once he can move past this injury, he can prove with his play that he's worthy of a starting job in New York.

"I'm just going to continue to do what I need to do first and foremost to get healthy and then when I do play, play well," Darnold said. "At the end of the day, my job as a quarterback is to move the ball down the field, take care of the football and score touchdowns and I feel like once I get back out there, I'm gonna do everything that I can to do that."

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