FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — With Sam Darnold‘s sprained right shoulder still ailing, the New York Jets will start Joe Flacco at quarterback Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals, coach Adam Gase said Wednesday.

Darnold, who is considered week-to-week, was injured during last Thursday’s loss to the Denver Broncos. Instead of waiting until the end of the week before a decision, the Jets decided to rule Darnold out midweek to get Flacco ready for his first start in nearly a year.

“He’s in a lot of pain,” Gase said. “That’s what it is. He can raise his arm to a certain degree, but to go out and practice, it would be very difficult for him right now.”

That Darnold returned to play against the Broncos after missing a few snaps and undergoing an X-ray in the locker room raises the question of whether he should have been allowed back in the game.

“The [doctors] thought that was the right thing to do,” Gase said of Darnold returning to the game. “He wanted to go back in. We knew what it was. Obviously, after the game, the next day, he was a lot more sore than he was in real time.”

This marks the third time in Darnold’s short career that he has missed time. In 2018, as a rookie, he missed three games with a sprained foot. In 2019, he sat out three games as he recovered from mononucleosis.

“It’s not fun being hurt,” Darnold said. “All I want to do is go out there and play football with the guys, so again, not fun but definitely got to have a good mindset going into treatment and rehab, trying to get healthy and staying on top of it as much as I can.”

Darnold said Monday that his shoulder seemed to be improving but knew it would be up to doctors as to whether he would be able to practice and ultimately play.

“I’m definitely glass half-full on this thing,” Darnold said. “I’m definitely going to learn from Joe, [and] if I learn anything, great. Joe’s a great player, got a lot of experience, and I’m sure I am going to learn a ton watching him play, but definitely want to be out there with the guys first and foremost.”

The Jets are 0-6 when Darnold doesn’t start over the past three seasons, averaging 10.9 fewer points per game. That is the main reason they signed Flacco, 35, the former longtime Baltimore Ravens starter and a Super Bowl MVP.

New York signed Flacco in May knowing he would probably miss a couple of games as he recovered from April neck surgery. Flacco was inactive for the first three games, then was the No. 2 quarterback against the Broncos, his previous team, and wound up playing four snaps. He attempted two passes, completing them both.

“It was a little bit weird last week, you know, because you’re always ready for that, but you don’t necessarily expect anything like that to happen, so my adrenaline was definitely pumping last week,” Flacco said. “When Sam went down there for a few plays, I had to go in, but this week feels a lot more normal today and that probably is to my advantage a little bit.”

Flacco made his last start for the Broncos on Oct. 27, when he suffered a neck injury and didn’t play for the remainder of the season. He was released in the offseason.

He won only two of eight starts for the Broncos, completing 65.3% of his passes for 1,822 yards, six touchdowns and five interceptions.

Quarterback Mike White will be elevated from the practice squad and will serve as the backup quarterback Sunday.

In other injury news, running back Le’Veon Bell (hamstring) returned to practice and was designated for return, meaning the Jets have a 21-day window with which to activate him from injured reserve. Bell is expected to play Sunday after missing three games.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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