It's safe to assume the first eight games of this season haven't gone the way Sam Darnold envisioned. For the third-year quarterback, however, it's not the Jets' 0-8 start that keeps him up at night.
His "worst nightmare" is watching from the sidelines.
"I'm focused on playing as much as I can and not missing any games," Darnold said on a conference call with reporters on Monday. "I just want to play every game that I'm capable of playing. If I miss a game and I'm capable of playing in it, that's my worst nightmare and I don't want to do that to this team ."
After a hard hit in Sunday's blowout loss to the Chiefs, despite finishing out the game and feeling "fine" after the final whistle, that horror could become reality next weekend.
Still nursing a sprained AC joint in his right shoulder—sustained on Oct. 1 against the Broncos—the Jets aren't taking any chances with their quarterback.
Head coach Adam Gase revealed on Monday afternoon that Darnold will have an MRI on his throwing shoulder. He'll also get a second opinion, precautionary measures set in place to assure that the next time Darnold takes the field, he won't be putting himself at risk of doing more damage to his shoulder.
"We just want to make sure that we go through all the steps we need to go through to where we can say we're good to go," Gase said of Darnold on a call with reporters on Monday. "We'll take a day or so to make sure that we're clean in that aspect and then figure out the right way to practice him this week."
Results of the MRI came back later on Monday showing Darnold aggravated his throwing shoulder, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. Nonetheless, the USC product will proceed in hopes of playing this week.
New York's next game comes on Monday Night at MetLife Stadium against the reeling New England Patriots (2-5).
"I woke up today and it felt good," Darnold said Monday. "The plan is to just take it one day at a time, continue to rehab, treat it as we've been doing and try as best I can to practice and go from there."
The 23-year-old went on to say that it's tough to tell if he's experiencing more or less soreness than he did earlier this season. After initially injuring his shoulder, slammed to the turf by a Broncos defender in Week 4, he missed two games.
In the fourth quarter on Sunday, Darnold attempted to scramble for a first down in the fourth quarter. Rather than sliding short of the yard to gain, he lunged forward and was sandwiched between two defenders.
"That hit definitely didn't help," Darnold added. "But, again, I should have slid and not taken that hit. Obviously going to continue to learn from my mistakes like that.
"Like I said, I woke up and it feels better than I thought it would."
Asked if the combination of New York's winless record alongside Darnold's injury could warrant the quarterback being benched going forward, Gase assured that No. 14 will be under center against New England if he's healthy enough to play.
"We need him out there," Gase said. "He gives us the best chance to win on Sundays and he knows that and we want him to keep playing."