Rookie QB Sam Darnold has been under center for the Jets since Week 1. But that streak may be coming to an end.
Darnold was diagnosed with a strained right foot, head coach Todd Bowles said on Wednesday after practice. The 21-year-old was seen walking in street clothes with a boot on his foot, and questions immediately rose as to whether or not the team's franchise quarterback will see his first inactive game against the Bills this week.
"It's just adversity," Darnold said. "Just gotta deal with it. Get better as soon as possible, get back on the field as soon as possible."
Bowles says he is considered day-to-day at the moment, and it was "too early" to rule him out this Sunday. As any competitor would, Darnold will continue his rehab to hopefully be able to play.
If he can't, though, he will still continue his learning process on the sideline.
"Obviously I want to be out there with the guys, I want to go out there and play," he said. "So hopefully, if I'm able to go out there Sunday, I will. If not, just gonna treat it as another learning experience and like I said before when adversity hits, it's up to me how to respond. That's all I need to worry about."
If Darnold is unable to suit up, veteran backup Josh McCown will be the next man up. Though he has only seen a few preseason snaps so far this season, McCown is confident he can replace Darnold, and lead this Jets offense.
"For me, that's not the plan," McCown said when asked if he would need time to shake off any rust. "I think that's the part of being in professional football is the expectation to go out and play at a high level. So that can't be allowed to be an excuse and it won't be. I'll go out and expect to play to my standard."
Despite McCown better a competitor himself, he doesn't like seeing Darnold injured. He has been his mentor all season long, noting that the two are constantly talking football and going over the team's game plan each week together.
But it's part of the business of being a backup quarterback, and McCown fully understands his role.
"If that's the case, you're torn because your friend and a teammate can't go," McCown said. "I don't wish that on anybody, but at the same time as a professional, as a backup quarterback, you have to serve your team in that role."
McCown getting the start appears to be the case at the moment, with Bowles noting Darnold won't be under center if he isn't 100 percent. Darnold is sure he can go out and play despite not seeing his normal practice reps, saying he is "really locked in during practice and understand the game plan and all that."
But he agrees with his head coach that caution is the smartest move.
"You know, we don't want to rush things," he said. "That's one thing we don't want to do. Yeah, I'm eager to get back out there on the field with my guys. But, at the same time, I gotta take care of my body first and foremost."