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FFL: Preseason | NFL: Week 1

Jets' birthday boy Darnold turns 21, making 'ton of strides'

Tue Jun 5 7:44pm ET
By DENNIS WASZAK Jr.
AP Sports Writer

Players: Josh McCown, Teddy Bridgewater, Jordan Leggett, Chad Hansen, Sam Darnold

New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold works out during the team's NFL football organized training activities, Tuesday, June 5, 2018, in Florham Park, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)


New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold speaks to reporters during the team's NFL football organized training activities, Tuesday, June 5, 2018, in Florham Park, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)


New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold speaks to reporters during the team's NFL football organized training activities, Tuesday, June 5, 2018, in Florham Park, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)


New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold works out during the team's NFL football organized training activities, Tuesday, June 5, 2018, in Florham Park, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)


FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) The big day finally arrived, and Sam Darnold had the perfect plan for celebrating his 21st birthday.

''Playing football,'' the New York Jets rookie quarterback said with a huge grin.

The birthday boy is now officially of the legal drinking age, but Darnold wasn't expecting to toast the milestone Tuesday night.

''Probably not,'' he said, smiling. ''I'll probably just stay in and go to sleep early, like I have been every single night.''

Partying is not high on the list for Darnold, who's the youngest player on the Jets' roster - and the fresh-faced future of the franchise.

The No. 3 overall draft pick out of USC has taken a businesslike approach to his introduction to life in the NFL. Eat, sleep and dream football.

Those are Darnold's days. Every day.

''I'm making a ton of strides, but at the same time, I'm not exactly where I want to be,'' Darnold said. ''But I know it's going to take time and it's a process. I'm aware of that and it's exciting, though, to understand the playbook the way I am and the strides I'm making. I'm really excited about where I'm going right now.''

Darnold will compete with veterans Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater this summer for the starting job, and he's giving Todd Bowles and his coaching staff plenty to consider early in this offseason.

The youngster looked predictably shaky in his first practice of organized team activities two weeks ago, but has appeared increasingly more poised in the sessions open to the media since.

''He's just more comfortable with the playbook and obviously seeing things a couple of times will make you more comfortable,'' Bowles said. ''He's just hard-working. Everything we thought coming in. He's going to work every day, wants to be good, understands the mistakes he makes, works at them night and day, and watches film and asks questions.

''At this time of year, that's what you're supposed to be doing.''

During Tuesday's practice, Darnold tossed a badly underthrown pass that safety Jamal Adams, last year's first-rounder, easily intercepted.

For a guy who was celebrating his birthday, it was certainly a gift - but for the defense.

''Yeah, I just made a bad read on it,'' Darnold said. ''I should've just dumped it down to the back, but I tried to force one in there.''

Rookie mistake.

''He retains things when you tell him,'' Bowles said. ''He makes mistakes, but doesn't make the same one twice, so he's very good from that standpoint as far as retaining information.''

Late in practice, though, Darnold had perhaps his prettiest play as a pro. He zipped a deep pass down the sideline that dropped over the reach of safety Kacy Rodgers II and right into Chad Hansen's hands. It was a terrific throw and a reminder of why so many labeled Darnold as ''special'' in the months leading up to the draft.

But such is the up-and-down life of a rookie quarterback that Darnold overthrew his final pass of practice on a deep toss to a wide-open Jordan Leggett. There's no doubt Darnold would be spending part of his birthday night breaking that down in the film room.

Darnold's development has included lots of rewinding and fast-forwarding through plays, and dissecting every move. He's got that type of time now, because football is the only thing that matters these days.

''I don't have class, so I'm spending every single day in the film room or on the practice field,'' he said. ''So in regards to that, just being able to spend time watching football and playing football is awesome. To be able to come in here every single day and do it for a living, that's pretty sweet.''

Darnold also recognizes the value of working with McCown and Bridgewater on and off the field.

''What makes it really cool is that they're really good players,'' Darnold said. ''They've experienced ball and they understand what's going on on the field all the time, at all times. It's amazing to be able to learn from them. After that play with Jamal, to be able to talk about it with them is something that is really cool, to be able to do that right after the play and get that feedback.''

Darnold has had to make several adjustments since coming to the Jets, including calling plays in the huddle - something he hadn't done much of at USC. He also says the increased pace of the game is evident, even in practice.

''It's faster, which is what I thought it would be, so it's been awesome,'' he said. ''It's just been a learning experience, just learning every single day and getting used to it has been awesome.''

Darnold says ''awesome'' a lot and sounds like a kid who's happy to be doing what he loves.

''You know, no, I don't feel any different,'' a smiling Darnold said of his milestone birthday. ''It's cool to be 21, but at the same time, I'm just coming here every single day ready for practice. Nothing's changing for me.''

Player Notes
DeAndre Hopkins Jul 22 6:40pm ET

While Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (ankle) and defensive end J.J. Watt (knee) are starting training camp on the PUP list and will be unable to practice, their stays on those lists are expected to only last a few days. Both players are expected to return to practice soon, and while it would be a surprise if either player takes the field during the preseason, both will be fine for Week 1. Hopkins has a chance to finish as the overall WR1, while Watt is one of the most valuable IDP defensive ends in the NFL.

From RotoBaller

Melvin Gordon Jul 22 6:30pm ET

Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon recently suggested he wants to be traded if the Chargers don't offer him a contract extension, and on Monday word came that the Chargers do not currently have interest in discussing Gordon's contract situation. Yahoo's Charles Robinson reports that the Chargers are "dug in" on their current stance, which means Gordon will now have to decide if he follows through on threats to hold out. Gordon's a RB1 who should be picked in the second half of the first round if he's on the field, but this situation creates a ton of uncertainty. Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson are worth picking slightly sooner than their ADPs at this point because of the Gordon situation.

From RotoBaller

Roc Thomas Jul 22 6:20pm ET

The Minnesota Vikings have parted ways with running back Roc Thomas, who was set to miss the first three games of the season after being suspended for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. The move isn't a huge surprise, though Minnesota is now fairly shallow at running back beyond Dalvin Cook and rookie Alexander Mattison. Thomas had just 10 touches as a rookie, so it wouldn't be a shock to see him not make it onto a roster this season, especially with that looming suspension.

From RotoBaller

Ryan Griffin Jul 22 6:10pm ET

The New York Jets have signed tight end Ryan Griffin, who spent the past six seasons with the Houston Texans. Griffin had 24 catches for 305 yards last season. While he'll ultimately be a backup to Chris Herndon IV, Griffin could be in line for an increase in usage over the first four games while Herndon serves a suspension. Griffin could have some DFS value over that span, but he'll still be fighting for snaps during those games as well, making him a risky fantasy play with upside that likely isn't high enough to make that a risk worth taking.

From RotoBaller

Julian Edelman Jul 22 4:00pm ET

New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman (thumb) could miss the first three weeks of camp after being spotted with a brace on his left thumb. The source of the injury is a bit unknown but this is just another offensive weapon for the Patriots that will not be ready for camp. Outside of quarterback Tom Brady, Edelman is perhaps the most important piece of the Patriots offensive scheme. At this point, the injury shouldn't hamper his ability to begin the season but certainly will keep him from participating in preseason games.

From RotoBaller

Eli Manning Jul 22 3:33pm ET

New York Giants QB Eli Manning is not competing with rookie first-round QB Daniel Jones for the starting job during training camp, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL Network.

From TheHuddle

Andrew Luck Jul 22 3:23pm ET

Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck was held out of spring practices with a minor calf injury, but he is 'good to go' for training camp, according to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero.

From TheHuddle

Brian Hill Jul 22 3:03pm ET

Atlanta Falcons RB Devonta Freeman is the unquestioned starting running back, but the team may ultimately decide to use Ito Smith, Brian Hill and Qadree Ollison to replace Tevin Coleman, who left for the San Francisco 49ers in free agency this spring. 'It's a position that has good talent for us. And now to be talented as a group, it may be a combination of those roles and featuring what those guys can do best. ... That's deeper than we've been at that position for a while, and I'm looking forward to the unique stuff that the guys do have,' head coach Dan Quinn said.

From TheHuddle

Orleans Darkwa Jul 22 2:33pm ET

Free-agent RB Orleans Darkwa (Giants) is working out for the Cleveland Browns on Monday, July 22.

From TheHuddle

Justin Evans Jul 22 2:23pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers S Justin Evans, LB Jack Cichy, LB David Kenney and WR Xavier Ubosi were placed on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list Monday, July 22. The team also placed QB Nick Fitzgerald on the Active/Non-Football Injury List.

From TheHuddle

Justin Hunter Jul 22 1:53pm ET

Free-agent WR Justin Hunter (Steelers) worked out Monday, July 22, for the New England Patriots, according to a source.

From TheHuddle

Jarran Reed Jul 22 1:43pm ET

Seattle Seahawks DT Jarran Reed was suspended six games Monday, July 22, due to violating the NFL's personal conduct policy. The suspension stems from an alleged 2017 incident in which Reed was accused of assaulting a woman. He was not arrested by police.

From TheHuddle

Julio Jones Jul 22 1:33pm ET

Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones (foot) is still rehabbing a foot injury that kept him out of June minicamps, according to head coach Dan Quinn on Monday, July 22. Jones had a bunion removed immediately after the 2018 season and was limited to working with trainers in Monday's opening day of training camp. The absence is not related to his contract situation.

Fantasy Spin: At this stage, it's more of a "keep an eye on it" approach than time to change your draft plans. The star receiver has a history of foot problems, but this one has nothing to do with it, as far as we can tell. Jones remains an elite WR1 in all fantasy settings.

From TheHuddle

Trey Flowers Jul 22 12:53pm ET

Detroit Lions DE Trey Flowers (shoulder) was placed on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list Monday, July 22, as he recovers from offseason shoulder surgery. The Lions can activate Flowers at any time, but he will not be ready for the beginning of training camp.

From TheHuddle

John Cyprien Jul 22 10:23am ET

Free-agent SS Johnathan Cyprien (Titans) will visit the New York Giants Monday, July 22.

From TheHuddle

Tre Boston Jul 22 10:23am ET

Free-agent SS Tre Boston (Cardinals) will visit the New York Giants Monday, July 22.

From TheHuddle

Julian Edelman Jul 22 10:03am ET

New England Patriots WR Julian Edelman (thumb) is wearing a small brace over his left thumb, which is expected to sideline him for about three weeks.

Fantasy Spin: Edelman isn't likely to lose anything from the time off as he and Tom Brady have such a rapport. Edelman is a low-end WR2 in PPR formats as he catches a lot of passes, but they don't usually result in a ton of yardage or scoring potential.

From TheHuddle

Demaryius Thomas Jul 22 12:50am ET

New England Patriots wide receiver Demaryius Thomas will open training camp on the team's PUP list. This isn't that much of a surprise as the veteran receiver continues to rehab from a torn ACL suffered last season. But the situation could have fantasy consequences in a few weeks when the Patriots must make their first cuts. If Thomas cannot practice by then, the team may be forced to keep him on the PUP list. This would make the 31-year-old ineligible for the first six regular season games and further damage the value of a player on the back-end of a very productive career.

From RotoBaller

Sony Michel Jul 22 12:40am ET

New England Patriots running back Sony Michel will begin training camp on the PUP list as he continues to recover from offseason knee surgery. Michel will not be eligible to practice with the team and his return is up in the air at this time. The Patriots still have plenty of time to activate the second-year back before first cuts and the expectation is that he should be ready to open the season as their lead back. But players must miss six regular season games if they remain on the PUP list after first cutdowns. The hope is this is precautionary since Michel participated in the team's mandatory minicamp. It is too early to become worried about Michel's status but his situation will have to be monitored throughout training camp all the way up to fantasy drafts.

From RotoBaller

Emmanuel Sanders Jul 21 9:43pm ET

Denver Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders (Achilles) continues to participate in the early portions of practice with the team before leaving to work with trainers, head coach Vic Fangio said Sunday. July 21. 'It's a slow but sure process,' Fangio said. 'Everything is good so far. He's where we expected him to be and even a little bit more.'

Fantasy Spin: While Sanders continues to make progress, it seems unlikely he is going to be top form by Week 1. If you are willing to be patient, he could become a solid WR3 by the end of the year.

From TheHuddle