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What Sam Darnold thinks about all these Jets’ injuries

Good soldier he is, Sam Darnold isn’t looking for any excuses.

No Le’Veon Bell? Doesn’t matter.

No Denzel Mims? Not his focus.

No Jamison Crowder? He’ll worry about who is in the huddle with him.

As the injuries to the few playmaking skill-position players on the roster pile up, as the narrative continues to swirl that the Jets’ quarterback doesn’t have nearly enough help around him, Darnold has refused to at least publicly acknowledge the deck may be stacked against him.

“That’s not true at all,” he said on Thursday. “We have really good playmakers. Again, it’s about me getting the ball in their hands and making sure that they can run after the catch.”

Sam Darnold
Sam DarnoldCorey Sipkin

Already, Bell (hamstring) and Mims (hamstrings) have been placed on injured reserve, meaning they will miss at least the next three games. On Thursday, Crowder — Darnold’s most reliable weapon who caught seven passes for 115 yards and a touchdown in Sunday’s lopsided loss to the Bills — didn’t practice due to a hamstring injury. His status is uncertain, potentially hinging on him practicing on Friday.

“Obviously, if he’s missing practice [on Thursday], we need to make sure that he’s good before we put him out there,” coach Adam Gase said, noting the team is still “evaluating” the injury.

That potentially leaves Darnold with the uninspiring quartet of Breshad Perriman, Chris Hogan, Braxton Berrios and Josh Malone at receiver. His starting running back, Frank Gore, is 37 years old. His top weapon might be tight end Chris Herndon, who appeared in just one game last year due to injury and suspension, and lost a costly fumble Sunday. And the powerhouse 49ers and reigning defensive rookie of the year Nick Bosa are coming to town, undoubtedly angry after blowing a late lead to the Cardinals on Sunday.

“I think for me it’s just about doing my job every play. For me, really whoever is out there, you’ve just got to get the ball to them, make sure that they [are] in the right spot at the right time,” he said. “I’m going to do my job in getting the ball out and getting it to them and making sure that they have enough room to run after the catch.”

Darnold believes he didn’t do that nearly enough in the loss to the Bills, completing just 21 of 35 passes for 215 yards, with 69 of those coming on a wide-receiver screen Crowder took to the house. He wasn’t at his best, committing a few glaring mistakes — an across-his-body interception on the move, a delay-of-game coming out of a television timeout and failing to throw the ball away and instead taking a sack by the sideline — and his focus this week is on rectifying those errors, not worrying about who is or isn’t out there with him.

“I think I definitely [have] room to improve,” he said. “For me, it was looking at the tape on Monday and just saying, ‘OK, this is where I need to get better.’ ”

Darnold has been encouraged by the play of the mostly new offensive line and spoke glowingly about the possibility of rookie running back La’Mical Perine making his debut on Sunday after returning to practice Thursday.

“It’s going to be a good year,” Darnold said.

It hasn’t started out very well, not for him and certainly not for the Jets. Injuries have hurt an already underwhelming group of skill-position players. But Darnold, in this huge season in his development, insists there is enough talent around him. He’ll try to prove it on Sunday.

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