NFL Football

Jets might face Pats without QB Darnold

The New York Jets are hosting Tom Brady and the New England Patriots on Sunday, and if that doesn't present enough problems, the Jets aren't sure who will be their quarterback.

Rookie starter Sam Darnold missed the last game, a 41-10 loss to the Buffalo Bills, because of a strained right foot and even though he discarded his walking boot during the bye week, he did not practice on Wednesday.

"He's getting better, he's progressing along," Jets head coach Todd Bowles told reporters. "We'll see how he is (later in the week)."

The 21-year-old Darnold seemed to be ready to practice on Wednesday when he took part in stretching exercises with his teammates, but then he mostly watched.

Standing off to the side, he did some throwing and light jogging.

"The foot is really good, I feel really good," Darnold said on Monday. "Like I said last week, just following protocol right now but it feels really good. I've been walking around on it fine. It's just stable progressions throughout the week I think."

While Darnold's foot might be good, or at least better, his numbers are not.

Darnold, whose injury has been described as a strain, has struggled in his rookie season, completing only 55 percent of his passes for 214.9 yards per game with a league-leading 14 interceptions and 11 touchdowns. His 68.3 passer rating is the worst among starting quarterbacks in the NFL.

If he can't play against the Patriots, 39-year-old Josh McCown will start for the Jets (3-7), as he did against the Bills, with Davis Webb as his backup.

McCown completed 17 of 32 passes for only 132 yards and two interceptions, in addition to being sacked three times by Buffalo.

Since a promising 3-3 start, the Jets have lost four straight games. In the last four weeks since scoring 42 points against the Indianapolis Colts, the Jets have produced 43 points.

"It's a must-win game for the next six weeks, let's put it like that," Jets safety Jamal Adams said Tuesday in his weekly appearance on WFAN Radio. "We're looking forward to a big game coming up and it being back home and just making a statement. We felt like that past game just wasn't us. We got to come back out and prove what we can do."

And now the Jets face the Patriots (7-3), who have won the last four games and 12 of the last 14 in the series of old American Football League teams.

Not only that, New England is smarting from a 34-10 rout at the hands of the Tennessee Titans two weeks ago before having extra time to deal with the defeat through its bye week.

But the Patriots aren't taking the Jets lightly.

"It's going to be a great atmosphere," Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore said. "It's always hard playing down there against a division team, so we've got to be ready to go."

Added head coach Bill Belichick: "It's always tough down there with the Jets. "I'm sure it will be again this time."

And it's not simply because it's an AFC East matchup.

All three of the Patriots' defeats this season have come on the road and in each of them New England fell behind by double digits in the first half.

"As the record shows, we didn't show up well many times on the away games," defensive end Trey Flowers said. "We know we have to come with a type of energy and match the energy of the opponent.

"Not getting off the field on third down, not stopping the run, not being physical -- little (things) like that hindered us on the road. I feel as though, us bringing the energy, that's the hardest thing going on the road. Other teams got their crowd and a whole lot of things going for them. We just have to be able to match that intensity."

It appears that Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, who has missed the last two games because of back and ankle injuries, will play.

If Gronk is healthy, the Jets probably will double-team him, which should open things up for the running game, plus Julian Edelman and the other Patriots receivers.

And you can count on Brady to find them.

Updated November 21, 2018

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