FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Sam Darnold has made a strong impression on New York Jets offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates, who hinted the rookie quarterback could be the starter if he continues to absorb the playbook at his current pace.
“Are we giving him bits and pieces of the offense or are we throwing everything at him? We’re throwing everything at him,” Bates said Wednesday at minicamp. “If he can handle it, if he can prove that he’s the starter, then that will take place when the time comes.”
The Jets will give Darnold a chance to win the job in the preseason, but it won’t be easy. He’s competing against incumbent Josh McCown and former Minnesota Vikings starter Teddy Bridgewater, both of whom have a huge edge in experience.
The organization’s plan is to be patient with Darnold, drafted third overall, but it won’t hold him back if he’s ready.
“If you treat them like a rookie, they’ll become a rookie, so we threw the whole book at him to see what he can handle and what he needs to work on — just like the other two — and he’s done a really good job,” Bates said of his new pupil. “Ever since rookie camp, he hasn’t flinched.”
Typically, Darnold gets a handful of first-team reps in each practice, with McCown receiving the vast majority of the work with the starters. On Wednesday, Darnold displayed both power and touch on a variety of throws.
Darnold, 21, who would be the youngest quarterback in Jets history to start a game if it happens in 2018, seemed uncomfortable when asked if he can win the job in the preseason.
“Anything is possible,” he said. “I think I’m capable of a lot of things, but it’s not up to me to decide.”
“If you treat them like a rookie, they’ll become a rookie, so we threw the whole book at him to see what he can handle and what he needs to work on — just like the other two — and he’s done a really good job. Ever since rookie camp, he hasn’t flinched.”
Jets OC Jeremy Bates on Sam Darnold
Bates, who will have a big say in the decision, spoke glowingly of Darnold’s ability to absorb information. He said the former USC star has done an “amazing” job of learning to play under center and calling plays in the huddle. In the Trojans’ offense, it was mostly shotgun and no-huddle.
The most impressive thing about Darnold, according to Bates, is “his suddenness — the ability to make plays off schedule.”
“He’s just very sudden,” said Bates, speaking to reporters for the first time since being promoted from quarterbacks coach. “When he has a guy open, the ball is out now. I describe him as a very sudden player. There’s not a lot of wasted thought process.”
Darnold arrived in the NFL with a reputation for being turnover-prone — 13 interceptions and nine lost fumbles last season. Bates attributed that to a “gunslinger type of mentality.” His hope is to teach him risk management. Turnovers haven’t been an issue through 12 practices.
“Obviously, he’s a rookie — he’s going to make some mistakes — but he doesn’t make them twice,” Bates said. “I’m really excited about him.”
Attorney for Colin Kaepernick sees Panthers, Patriots as potential landing spots for QB
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The attorney for Colin Kaepernick said in an interview with CNN on Saturday night that the quarterback still “absolutely wants to play” in the NFL, and projected the Carolina Panthers and New England Patriots as two of the best landing spots for him.
Mark Geragos spoke with CNN a day after Kaepernick and Eric Reid reached a settlement with the NFL concerning their collusion grievances against the league.
Geragos said he spoke with Kaepernick on Saturday about his desire to play.
“I think you’re going to see … within the next two weeks that somebody is going to step up and do the right thing, and you want me to predict who?” Geragos told ESPN. “Besides the Panthers, it would not surprise me if [Patriots owner] Bob Kraft makes a move.”
Geragos called the Panthers a “natural place” for Kaepernick to be, especially if quarterback Cam Newton struggles to return from offseason arthroscopic shoulder surgery. Joining the Panthers also would reunite Kaepernick with Reid, his former teammate with the San Francisco 49ers who joined him in kneeling during the national anthem to protest social injustice.
Kaepernick filed a grievance in October 2017 under the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement, alleging collusion against signing him to an NFL contract. The settlement the sides reached includes a confidentiality agreement that prevents either side from commenting further.
As such, Geragos told CNN that he couldn’t comment on anything about the settlement.
This isn’t the first time Geragos has mentioned the Patriots as a possibility for the 31-year-old Kaepernick. Kraft’s reputation as a bridge-builder in NFL circles could be the impetus for that, as well as 41-year-old quarterback Tom Brady having said publicly that his goal is to play until he’s 45, which means the club will be searching for a successor in the coming years.
But the Patriots appear to be a long shot for Kaepernick, as they already have a veteran backup in 32-year-old Brian Hoyer, one of Brady’s closest friends. The team also selected quarterback Danny Etling in the seventh round of the 2018 draft, and could potentially select another quarterback this year.
Geragos also said on CNN that he wouldn’t be surprised if one of the Patriots’ former coaches “makes a move” for Kaepernick.
He didn’t specify which team. Former Patriots defensive play-caller Brian Flores is now coach of the Miami Dolphins, while former New England defensive coordinator Matt Patricia is coach of the Detroit Lions and former Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien is coach of the Houston Texans.
“He wants to compete at the highest level,” Geragos said of Kaepernick. “This is a competitive young man.”
Kaepernick has not been with an NFL team since severing his contract with the 49ers in March 2017. Reid, who played for the 49ers from 2013 to 2017, signed with the Panthers before the team’s fourth game of the 2018 season and received a three-year deal earlier this week worth more than $22 million.
Antonio Brown addresses trade request with fans on Twitter
PITTSBURGH — Antonio Brown is done being silent.
The Pittsburgh Steelers All-Pro took Twitter questions from fans Saturday, and his answers revealed frustrations with the organization that have resulted in a formal trade request.
Brown told fans he would hold a 10-question #AskAB session to reveal the truth, and the first question was about his relationship with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. He didn’t hold back.
No conflict just a matter of respect! Mutual respect! He has a owner mentality like he can call out anybody including coaches. Players know but they can’t say anything about it otherwise they meal ticket gone. It’s a dirty game within a game. #truth https://t.co/MsSyBVd3Ny
— Antonio Brown (@AB84) February 16, 2019
Sources told ESPN in January that Brown was tired of being the scapegoat for the Steelers’ problems and was privately upset that Roethlisberger called out his route-running after a Week 12 loss to the Denver Broncos. Roethlisberger said after the season he considers Brown a friend and wanted him to return to the team.
Brown addressed what happened in Week 17, when the receiver frustrated the organization for missing a Saturday walk-through. He also “went off” in a team setting earlier in the week, a source said.
After the coach tell the team I quit while nursing some bumps then invite me to watch the show with same guys thinking I quit i can not stand with that! I’m the bad guy doe we miss post season think about it https://t.co/imrJ8jnnBc
— Antonio Brown (@AB84) February 16, 2019
Brown first requested a trade in late January and issued a social media video Tuesday thanking fans for nine years in Pittsburgh.
The 30-year-old All-Pro is scheduled to meet with team president Art Rooney II next week, a source confirmed to ESPN. Rooney told local media last month he wanted to hear directly from Brown.
Brown owns the NFL record for most consecutive 100-catch seasons with six. Trading him would cost the Steelers $21.12 million in dead money, which would be offset by $22.165 million in cap savings. He is owed a $2.5 million roster bonus on March 17.
Asked about any chance he stays with the team, Brown tweeted: “Love Steelers Nation everything to my heart ❤️ no more !”
Dolphins adding Reggie McKenzie as senior exec
It’s unclear what McKenzie’s official title will be, but he will have notable influence helping general manager Chris Grier rebuild the Dolphins into a contender.
It wasn’t too long ago that McKenzie was considered one of the NFL’s top general managers. He won the Pro Football Writers of America Executive of the Year award in 2016 while playing a significant role in lifting the Oakland Raiders from 3-13 in 2014 to 12-4 in 2016.
McKenzie was fired by the Raiders in October after new Oakland coach Jon Gruden took a bigger role in football operation decisions.
The Dolphins hired former Buffalo Bills national scout Marvin Allen as assistant general manager earlier this offseason along with a number of internal promotions.
Grier was promoted to oversee football operations after the 2018 regular season when coach Adam Gase was fired and former executive vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum was reassigned.
McKenzie will help Grier and new coach Brian Flores steer the Dolphins out of mediocrity. Miami has finished between 6-10 and 10-6 in each of its last 10 seasons, and owner Stephen Ross has made it clear he wants that to change beginning in 2019.
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