Jets fans, it’s time to regrow the nails you’ve been biting; Sam Darnold is officially a New York Jets quarterback.
On Monday, after missing multiple practices due to contract language disagreements, Sam Darnold signed his $30.25, fully guaranteed contract. Darnold rushed onto the field for practice, about ten minutes late, to a slow-clap from his teammates who were clearly poking fun at the newly minted millionaire.
Head Coach Todd Bowles downplayed Darnold’s absence.
“You always want everybody in camp on time but it’s a part of the business. Obviously, you understand the ramifications when you aren’t in camp and when you get into camp you just got to put your head down and work and he’ll do that.”
During the post-practice press conference, Bowles did reiterate several times that, as of now, QBs Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater are ahead of Darnold in the depth chart. The competition “started on Thursday,” before Darnold arrived, and “throughout the course of preseason that will take care of itself.”
What the Darnold “holdout” did do was take focus away from the rest of the team – including some other interesting battles going on.
At the cornerback position, Parry Nickerson, a rookie sixth round pick out of Tulane, has flashed his ball awareness throughout camp. He got some work with the first-team defense, Monday, in place of Buster Skrine. Skrine has been the Jets’ primary nickel corner for the past two seasons. Roster interchanging is commonplace in training camp, but it is still a good sign to see the rookie holding his own at a position that has lacked depth in recent seasons.
Some other notable training camp performances have come from other 2018 draftees…
- Nathan Shepherd – defensive lineman / 3rd Rd pick out of Fort Hayes St. (DII)
- Chris Herdon – tight end / 4th Rd pick out of Miami (FL)
- Trenton Cannon – running back / 6th Rd pick out of Virginia St.
Cannon’s opportunities may expand, as a foot injury to second-year RB Eli McGuire will have him sidelined for an estimated 3-6 weeks. Initially drafted as a potential return man, Cannon could see his offensive reps expand. He has shown good burst around the edge of the defense, but will need to continue to impress after just two padded practices.
This offseason, the Jets signed former Cleveland Browns rusher, Isaiah Crowell, to likely serve as the front-man in a two-headed monster with Jets veteran Bilal Powell. Seahawks running back Thomas Rawls was also added to the team, as well as a new addition in former Raider, George Atkinson III.
The team is loaded with halfbacks, none of which are guaranteed snaps. It will be interesting to see who makes the 53-man roster, and how many the team will carry, especially considering the Jets also have two fullbacks in camp – Lawrence Thomas and rookie Dimitri Flowers.
Outside QB, CB, and RB, the Jets will have two important battles at wide receiver and defensive line, which we will cover more as training camp and the preseason develops.
Getting Sam Darnold onto field was just one piece of a big puzzle.
At least we now know that his piece is in the box.
Feature Image: Mark Brown / Getty Images