Jets head coach Adam Gase gets his starting quarterback under center once again, but when Sam Darnold does take that first hit on Sunday against the Cowboys, everyone will be holding their breath.
Darnold is returning from mononucleosis, and it may have been a week earlier if he didnt have an enlarged spleen. It's a side effect of the illness, and could even be fatal if it were to burst upon contact.
That's why doctors had to be totally sure Darnold's spleen returned to normal size. With him starting this week, the result is it has -- and that's why Darnold isn't nervous if he does take a hit.
"I'm not worried about that," he said. "When I'm out there playing, I'm not worried about guys hitting me or anything. I'm trusting the guys up front to do their thing, and I'm trusting the receivers to go out and get open when it's time to pass the ball. For me, it's all about trust. When I do get hit, I know I'm not in danger anymore.
"They're letting me go out there and play because it's safe. So I'm not worried about that."
Darnold may not be worried about it, but after watching how the Jets' offensive line has played recently, it's hard not to. A week ago against the Eagles, this group allowed Luke Falk to go down for 10 sacks. And on top of that, Kelechi Osemele is battling some injuries and hasn't practiced all week thus far.
But Darnold is prepared. For one, his legs are weapons and he'll certainly move out of the pocket if need be. He's also going to be wearing additional padding that he said won't restrict his play.
Now that the franchise quarterback has returned, there are also the masses that are viewing Darnold as a savior to this team. Gase has denied that being the case, and Darnold reiterated that as well.
"I think he's right," Darnold said when asked about Gase denying he's a "magic wand" for the Jets. "We need to clean up the details on a lot of stuff we're doing. Hopefully I can go out there and do my thing, throw the ball where it needs to be thrown, be able to check the ball down if I have to and go make plays when it's necessary to do that. I'm just going to go out there and continue to play football the way I play, but also stay within the offense and stay within myself."
The Jets won't label Darnold their much-needed spark, but if he can play the way we know how, it may be just enough to wake up the offense this week. They haven't been able to generate any sort of yardage, but Darnold's skill set should change that.
It will take the entire offense, though, and that's what Darnold made sure to note.
"This offense is capable of a lot," he said. "It's just up to us as an offense to go out there and do it."
For Darnold to do it, he can't be taking the same amount of hits Falk was.