FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Quarterback Sam Darnold, who missed the Jets’ last two games because of mononucleosis, will not play this Sunday against the Eagles.
“The labs didn’t come back the way we were hoping,” Coach Adam Gase told reporters at a Friday news conference. “It’s close, but it’s not where we need to be.”
Darnold’s participation in practice on Thursday was classified by the team as “limited.” He had an ultrasound on his spleen and underwent blood tests after practice.
Darnold said he was excited to return to action eventually, but he also understood the need for caution. “It’s a tough thing. I want to make sure I’m safe out there, and I’m not going to die,” Darnold said.
When Darnold does play, he will wear extra padding around the ribs, “to make sure nothing bad happens,” he said. An enlarged spleen is often a symptom of mononucleosis.
The Giants appear to have their own medical call to make about running back Saquon Barkley, who has not been ruled out of Sunday’s home game against Minnesota even though he suffered a high ankle sprain Sept. 22 at Tampa Bay.
“I think there are certain things we need to see a player do before we deem him ready to play,” Giants Coach Pat Shurmur said. “Deciding whether a player is out or not, those are Friday things. Today is Thursday.”
Barkley, whose ankle injury was so serious that it was thought that he could be out for up to eight weeks, did not participate in Thursday’s practice, the Giants said, but he was seen cutting and high-stepping during warm-ups, which were open to the news media.
“From the day I got hurt, I wasn’t going to allow myself to take a negative approach to it,” Barkley told reporters after practice. “I’m a big believer with healing, a lot of it is mental also. Just trusting the trainers, and I think they’ve been doing a great job. Not only my trainers here, but my physical therapist, outside of football, is doing a great job with me, too. I’m just trying to do whatever I can to help my team win games. Just trying to get as ready as I can.”
Shurmur said it was possible that Barkley could play Sunday, adding: “I think we check constantly with our doctors, and we make sure that he’s on the right track to come back. So, we’ll just see.”
Darnold, who has only played in the Jets’ season opener, a 17-16 loss at home Sept. 8 to the Buffalo Bills, said he had felt good in practice this week. At the start of practice on Thursday, Darnold threw a soaring, 35-yard completion to Demaryius Thomas on a stop-and-go route.
But Darnold was wearing a red jersey, meaning he was not to be touched.
Jets Coach Adam Gase said before practice Thursday that he was encouraged by the way Darnold had looked in practice Wednesday, but when Gase was asked about Darnold’s stamina level, he replied: “I don’t know. I haven’t dealt with mono a whole bunch.”
Gase acknowledged that the Jets (0-3), whose offense is averaging a league-low 196.7 yards per game, would get an emotional boost from seeing Darnold return to action. With Trevor Siemien and Luke Falk at quarterback, the Jets have been outscored in two games, 53-17.
In a first, the Jets gathered as a team, instead of in groups, to watch video of their last game, a desultory 30-14 loss Sept. 22 to the New England Patriots in which they scored one touchdown on a fumble recovery and another on an interception return.
“Everyone was getting held accountable on one big screen,” the running back Le’Veon Bell said.
Bell thought the session would benefit the team, but getting Darnold back would help even more. “He looks like the same guy,” Bell said of Darnold.
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