Jets’ Darnold hopes to start, but ‘not gonna die’

New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold is preparing to return from mononucleosis to start Sunday’s game in Philadelphia, but he will yield to doctors if they determine that playing would risk his safety.

“I wanna make sure that I’m safe out there, and that, you know, I’m not gonna die,” Darnold told reporters Thursday with a light laugh. “I think that’s one thing. But for me, sitting back and watching the team play, and not having anything to do with the win or the loss, it’s not a good feeling for me. …

“So I’m just excited to get back out there, whenever it is. For me, it’s sooner rather than later, is my mindset. But I’ve got to let the doctors do their job.”

Darnold has yet to be cleared for contact due to an enlarged spleen, a common side effect of mono. He will receive an ultrasound and blood tests on Friday to determine whether it’s safe enough for him to play Sunday or whether the risk of a ruptured spleen is too great.

“Everything’s gotta be right for me to play,” Darnold said.

Asked about the status of his spleen, Darnold laughed and replied, “It’s good, I think.”

While mononucleosis commonly causes fatigue, he said he hasn’t had issues with energy in practice, having gotten in limited sessions on both Wednesday and Thursday.

“From that standpoint, I feel like I’m good to go,” Darnold said. “But obviously there’s some things that need to get cleared before that happens.”

If he plays, Darnold will do so wearing custom protective padding over his ribs, further shielding his spleen.

If he isn’t cleared to play, Luke Falk would make his second career start. Falk, 24, went 12 of 22 for 98 yards and an interception in a 30-14 loss in Week 3 to the New England Patriots. He finished 20 of 25 for 198 yards in relief of injured backup Trevor Siemian in Week 2 against the Cleveland Browns.

Darnold, 22, was 28 of 41 for 175 yards and a touchdown in the season-opening loss to the Buffalo Bills. He threw for 2,865 yards and 17 touchdowns with 15 interceptions across 13 starts as a rookie in 2018.

–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)