New York Jets optimistic Sam Darnold will play Monday night despite shoulder injury

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The winless New York Jets are playing out a lost season, already focused on the future, but the dire circumstances won't stop quarterback Sam Darnold from playing with a banged-up throwing shoulder.

Darnold didn't practice Thursday after aggravating a previous injury on Sunday, but the Jets' plan is for him to start Monday night against the New England Patriots.

"I think it's going to take a lot for him to stay out of this game," coach Adam Gase said Thursday.

Gase described the rest day as precautionary, saying the expectation is that Darnold will practice Friday and play Monday night. He said he feels "pretty good" about Darnold's chances of facing the Patriots (2-5), who have dropped four straight.

Darnold, who missed two games after suffering a sprained AC joint on Oct. 1, underwent an MRI on Monday. He said he was encouraged by the results, with Gase saying, "There wasn't more damage. It's more like soreness. It's not a structural thing or anything like that. He's just sore."

The only way Darnold won't play is if "something doesn't feel right when we do get him out there," Gase said.

The Jets have always felt Darnold needs as many reps as possible during the week to be effective on Sunday, so it would go against the norm to play him in a game after an abbreviated practice week.

Darnold could see the Patriots as a personal challenge. He's 0-2 against them, including the worst game of his career. In Week 7 last season, a Monday night game, he threw four interceptions and the Jets lost 33-0. The game will be remembered for his "ghosts" comment.

Miked-up for the game, Darnold told an assistant coach after an interception, "I'm seeing ghosts" -- a reference to how he was confused by the Patriots' defensive schemes.

Darnold is ranked 30th out of 32 qualifying quarterbacks in Total QBR, and he has gone three straight games without a touchdown pass. But he said it would be his "worst nightmare" to miss a game that he was physically capable of playing in.