Sam Darnold participates in first minicamp practice with New York Jets


FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Sam Darnold faces enormous expectations as the New York Jets‘ highest-drafted quarterback since Joe Namath in 1965, but he recognizes there is a long way to go before he can be compared to Broadway Joe.

Speaking to reporters Friday before his first minicamp practice, Darnold described himself as a naive rookie looking to fit in with the rest of his new teammates.

“I love spending time in here, being able to absorb as much information as I can because I’m coming in here and I don’t know anything,” said the former USC star who was drafted third overall.

Darnold said his first goal is to learn the playbook, which he received April 27, and stay poised in practice. Team officials have said he will have a chance to be the opening day starter, but Darnold downplayed that possibility, insisting it’s not a concern. The other quarterbacks are incumbent Josh McCown, Teddy Bridgewater and Christian Hackenberg.

At some point, Darnold will lead a team that hasn’t been to the Super Bowl in 49 years. Talk about a big challenge.

“I embrace that,” he said, “but I understand every single day is a process. You have to come in here and earn respect. I’m not going to come in here and demand it.

“I just have to come in here, understanding the position I’m in. I’m a rookie — I understand that — but at the same time, I’m a quarterback and I have to be a leader on the field and off it as well.”

Darnold, who went 20-4 at USC as a starter, admitted to being “nervous” before his first practice. But he said it was mainly a relief to be back on the field leading an offense.

Asked how his life has changed since being drafted, Darnold laughed and said, “A lot [more] followers” on social media. The fan base, hungry for a franchise quarterback, has embraced him.

“It’s just really cool how excited they are about me being here,” he said. “It’s really awesome to have that feeling, that you feel wanted. Whether I’m wanted or not, I’m going to come in here and do my thing.”

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