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Jets QB Sam Darnold to remain starter when he returns from injury

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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Injured quarterback Sam Darnold won’t start Sunday for the New York Jets, but the struggling rookie will return to the starting lineup as soon as his strained right foot is healed, coach Todd Bowles said Thursday.

Perhaps trying to defuse a potential controversy, Bowles said he will return to Darnold even if veteran Josh McCown, the starter Sunday against the Buffalo Bills, is playing well.

“Sam is our quarterback,” Bowles said.

Pressed further, Bowled added: “Because he’s our starter and he won the job. I feel comfortable with him out there and I feel comfortable with Josh in there.”

Officially, Darnold hasn’t been ruled out of Sunday’s game, even though he missed practice for the second day in a row. Bowles stated the obvious — Darnold won’t start — but he left open the possibility of making him the No. 2 quarterback. That is highly unlikely, as the Jets are expected to promote Davis Webb from their practice squad.

Darnold, who played the entire game last Sunday despite the injury, is considered week-to-week, according to a source.

Bowles committed to Darnold when he made him the Week 1 starter, and he’s not bending even though the offense has become stagnant in recent weeks — only one touchdown in its last 27 possessions.

There’s another layer to the situation. At 3-6, Bowles could be fighting for his job and it could be argued that McCown, 39, gives him the best chance to win. The coach refused to answer when asked about it.

“I’ve got other questions to answer,” he said. “Next question.”

After a promising start, Darnold has thrown seven interceptions over the last three games (all losses), bringing his total to a league-high 14. The former USC star threw four interceptions in last week’s 13-6 loss to the Dolphins. “Stupid football,” he called it.

“We didn’t play well as an offense,” Bowles said. “He didn’t play well last game, but there are a couple of people who have bad games here and there.”

The two quarterbacks are close friends, so there’s no chance of a controversy fracturing their relationship. But it will be interesting how the rest of the locker room reacts, especially if McCown gets on a roll.

Wide receiver Jermaine Kearse said the offense plays at a quicker tempo with McCown as opposed to Darnold.

“He sees things a lot quicker,” Kearse said. “Just the mental aspect, he’s a lot further, just with his experience, being in the league, just being able to see things a lot quicker. The tempo kind of picked up a little bit.”

Tackle Kelvin Beachum said of McCown, “I guess it’s like riding an old bike. You know how things go. You know what type of person he is. You know what type of leader he is. He plays with confidence, he talks with confidence and he breeds confidence.”

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TE Watson considering 16th season

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Veteran tight end Benjamin Watson, who intended to retire after last season, is now considering a return to the NFL for a 16th season, league sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Saturday.

Watson, whose wife is due to give birth to twins next week, might be open to returning to the NFL under the right situation, the sources said.

The 38-year-old Watson, whose contract with the New Orleans Saints expired after the 2018 season, ranks 14th among tight ends in NFL history with 530 career receptions. Watson has amassed 5,885 yards and 44 touchdown catches.

He previously said that 2018 would be his final season in the NFL. A first-round pick of New England in 2004, the two-time finalist for the league’s Walter Payton Man of the Year award has also played for the Browns and Ravens.

“I knew coming into this year that it probably would be the last year,” Watson said at the end of last season. “And I think our approach was as a family that we were fortunate to come and play for another year, but you kind of know. It’s been great to be a part of this team and have this sort of winning at this point of my career. But the injuries add up, the body struggles more and more. And it becomes evident that it’s time.”

Watson played in every game for the Saints last season, catching 35 passes for 400 yards and two touchdowns. It was his second stint with the Saints.

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Lennon’s ‘Sgt. Pepper’s’ piano sold to Colts’ Irsay

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INDIANAPOLIS — An upright piano that John Lennon used to write Beatles’ songs has been sold at auction to Jim Irsay. Just “A Day in the Life” of the owner of the Indianapolis Colts.

Irsay tweeted Saturday that he’s “elated” to now own the instrument Lennon used to compose songs for The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album.

The Indianapolis Star reports the piano, made in the 1870s, was auctioned on the site GottaHaveRockandRoll.com, with a minimum required bid of $575,000. The site estimated it would sell for between $800,000 and $1.2 million. As of Saturday afternoon, the final price tag had not yet been announced.

Irsay called ownership of the piano a “responsibility I take seriously, with future generations in mind.”

The Star reports Irsay previously bought guitars once owned by music legends Jerry Garcia, Prince and Bob Dylan.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Source — Seahawks want 1st-rounder for DE Clark

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The Seattle Seahawks are still considering trading defensive end Frank Clark, a league source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Saturday.

In return, the Seahawks would want any package to include at least a first-round pick in next week’s NFL draft, the source said.

Clark, who has yet to sign his $17.128 million franchise tag, has been the subject of trade rumors. He led the Seahawks with 13 sacks and also had four forced fumbles and an interception last season, and he added another sack in a wild-card playoff loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

Earlier this week, Seahawks general manager John Schneider said trade rumors are common this time of year, but he didn’t shoot down any involving Clark, who turns 26 in June.

“He’s a franchised player. We love Frank,” Schneider said. “He’s an incredibly effective pass-rusher and we love him. … When you’re getting close to the trade deadline and you get close to the draft, it’s like major speculation, a ton of drama, all the news outlets and everything. I get it. It’s what we’re doing, it’s entertainment.

“People around the league know that we’re in every deal, that the people on my staff, we’re always trying to understand the landscape around the National Football League. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be doing our job. We can’t ever have our head in the sand with anything, but we love Frank. Obviously that’s why we franchised him.”

ESPN’s Brady Henderson contributed to this report.

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