Even though quarterback Sam Darnold (mono) returned to practice this week and took a majority of the first-team reps, the New York Jets (0-3) have ultimately elected to err on the side of caution.
Darnold will miss his third straight game, as he's been ruled out for Sunday's matchup at the Philadelphia Eagles (2-2) after not passing his medical tests. Luke Falk will make his second consecutive start.
"Sad for Sam (Darnold) that he has to go through this another week, but I'm excited for my opportunity," Falk said. "I'm excited to go out there and play and help my team win."
The Jets additionally re-signed quarterback David Fales to serve as Falk's backup and placed defensive lineman John Franklin-Myers on injured reserve.
Jets coach Adam Gase delivered the news prior to Friday's practice.
“We felt like the doctors made a good suggestion yesterday to get ahead of it as far as testing him, which was probably the right call and the labs didn’t come back the way that we were hoping,” Gase said. “I know Sam is disappointed, but we’re able to adjust, work quickly and our guys have done a good job with any kind of changes that we’ve had to make.”
Despite Darnold saying he felt well enough to play, the results indicated otherwise.
“I felt bad. When we told him, of course the first thing he says is, ‘I feel like I’m letting the other guys down.’ It’s not about him. He tried to do everything he could. He did everything he was asked to do, he did everything the doctors told him to do, it just didn’t work out for him," Gase said. "I know the guys, they always do a good job, they rally quick. Good thing is Luke was all in and was wired in and knew this could happen.”
While his sights were set on returning Sunday, Darnold intended to keep his priorities in order. If Darnold played with an enlarged spleen, there's the chance it could've ruptured on a hit.
"It's a tough thing because you want to stay safe," Darnold said on Thursday. "I want to make sure that I'm safe out there and that I'm not going to die."
Falk finished 12-for-22 with 98 yards and one interception in Week 3 at the New England Patriots (4-0). With Darnold sidelined the last two games, the Jets haven't scored an offensive touchdown.
Falk is confident he can make the necessary adjustments in his second career start as the Jets seek their first win of the season.
"Yeah, I think just having that first start under your belt, kind of that game action how you go about the week, how you go about, I guess, the flow as a starter," Falk said. "So, there are some good learning lessons there."
Gase prepared this week's game plan with the mindset that Falk could be thrust into action again.
“We’ve been working both of those guys and the competitiveness we’ve had at practice, especially on scout team, [Falk] has had a lot of reps, too,” Gase said. “We had increased reps as far as scout team type of things. That was more because of the bye, we wanted to change things up and move our practice schedule around a little bit. It just worked out that way.”
Gase did not confirm whether Darnold will be able to return in Week 6 against the visiting Dallas Cowboys (3-1).
Falk is bringing a positive attitude into Philadelphia and believes the Jets are up for the road challenge.
"I think we had a great week of practice. I think we've got a good plan," Falk said. "I think guys are flying around, so I'm real excited for the opportunity and I know the guys are as well."