FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Todd Bowles is running the quarterback sneak until Sunday.
The New York Jets coach declined Friday to announce whether Sam Darnold or Josh McCown will start at Tennessee against the Titans.
Darnold is questionable as he recovers from a strained right foot, while McCown was a full participant at practice after being limited during the previous two practices because of back and right hand ailments.
“I’ve kind of decided, but I’ll make it public on Sunday,” Bowles said in a display of gamesmanship.
Darnold has missed the past two games, but showed progress Wednesday by participating in team drills for the first time since being injured against Miami on Nov. 4. He was limited during all three practice sessions this week.
“He looks good,” Bowles said without providing details.
Darnold said Wednesday his foot was feeling “a little sore,” but had no pain and was “hopeful” he’d be ready to play against the Titans.
The rookie quarterback could very well be active Sunday, but as the No. 2 quarterback behind McCown.
“I’ll decide that on Sunday,” Bowles said. “We’ll see where we go.”
McCown is ready to play either way. His right hand was cut when he banged it on a helmet during the Jets’ loss last Sunday to New England. Davis Webb has served as his backup the last two games while Darnold has been sidelined.
Webb also took snaps in team drills during the week, but it will be either McCown or Darnold under center against the Titans.
Depending on whether Darnold returns this weekend or next Sunday at Buffalo, he’ll have four or five games to try to finish his rookie season on a positive note. He still leads the NFL with 14 interceptions despite missing two games, and his 55.0 completion percentage and 68.3 quarterback rating rank at or near the bottom of the league.
“I think, obviously, as a rookie quarterback you don’t want to miss time just because every experience, every practice, is a moment to learn,” offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates said Thursday. “So, I think that hurt him a little bit as far as missing those two weeks. But he has been studying in the film room and I think he is naturally just going to keep getting better. He’s absorbing all of the information, both positive and negative. The future is really bright.”
The No. 3 overall pick is still very much considered a major building block for the team, and the Jets expect even greater progress next season.
“For any rookie, in the second year, it slows down mentally because that’s where the biggest learning curve is, regardless of position,” Bowles said. “So, I’m sure next year will be a lot slower because he’s been through the year.”
In other injury news:
— Safety Marcus Maye was ruled out for the second straight game because of shoulder and thumb injuries. Bowles said “it’s possible” Maye could have surgery on his shoulder and the team will “soon” make a decision on his status for the rest of the season.
Cornerback Darryl Roberts is expected to fill Maye’s spot again after starting at safety against New England.
“I thought he did decent last week, the first time out,” Bowles said. “He’s a very intelligent football player. He just loves to play the game, regardless of whether it’s corner or safety. He understands where he needs to be and where he has to be.”
— Wide receiver Robby Anderson is questionable with an ankle injury that has been bothering him the last few weeks. He was injured against Minnesota in Week 7 and missed two of the next three games, but played last week against New England and had two catches for 22 yards.
“We’ll warm him up beforehand (at Tennessee) and see how he feels,” Bowles said.
— Running back Trenton Cannon (hamstring) and wide receiver/kick returner Andre Roberts (foot) were full participants at practice after being limited Thursday.
NOTES: Bowles said the Jets have “tweaked” the offensive line “a little bit,” but Jonotthan Harrison is still expected to play at center and Spencer Long at left guard. The coach added that backup linemen Dakota Dozier and Brent Qvale could also play, depending on the packages the Jets run. “You may see some changes,” Bowles said, “and if the plays don’t come up, then you may not.” … DE Leonard Williams on the mentality of the team at 3-8 and on a five-game losing streak: “One thing I would say I’m proud of is that everyone continues to fight. I feel like it would be an easy time for people to be depressed and start bickering with each other and being down and having like a gloomy attitude around here. But everyone still comes in with a live passion and everyone seems to be playing for something still. I’ll go to war with these guys any day just because of that.”
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)