FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold will be sidelined indefinitely after being diagnosed with mononucleosis, coach Adam Gase announced Thursday. Trevor Siemian will start Monday night against the Cleveland Browns.
The Jets, who lost starting wide receiver Quincy Enunwa to a season-ending neck injury this week, could be without Darnold for multiple weeks.
“Looks like it,” Gase said. “Good thing we’ve got an early bye week.”
Darnold isn’t the only concern on offense.
Running back Le’Veon Bell will have an MRI on Thursday to evaluate shoulder soreness. Gase didn’t sound alarmed, saying, “We don’t think it’s anything worse than that. We’re just trying to be a little extra cautious.”
Darnold received the diagnosis late Wednesday night, when Gase, offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains and a trainer showed up at his apartment near the Jets’ facility.
“He knew something was up, when Dowell and myself showed up,” Gase said of his second-year quarterback, who didn’t practice Wednesday because of what the team called strep throat. “I wanted to make sure [the news] was delivered myself. I figured I could be the bearer of bad news on this one.”
Weight loss and extreme fatigue are the most common symptoms with mononucleosis, which has been known to last multiple months in some cases.
Darnold expressed concern about recent weight loss. He dropped 5 pounds, according to Gase.
“That was something that was alarming to him, that he lost some weight already in the last couple of days,” Gase said.
The Jets sent meals to Darnold’s apartment because the team wants him to stay away from the facility due to the possibility of spreading the disease.
The team already has reached a pressure point in the season, coming off a crushing Week 1 loss to the Buffalo Bills in which the Jets blew a 16-point lead at home.
Darnold was lackluster in the opener, passing for only 175 yards, but he wasn’t ill on Sunday, according to Gase.
Darnold’s diagnosis, coupled with Enunwa’s injury, will be costly for an offense that underachieved in the opener, managing only eight points.
Siemian, who signed as a free agent in the offseason, is 13-11 as a starter, but he hasn’t played in a game since 2017 with the Denver Broncos. He spent last season with the Minnesota Vikings but didn’t see any game action behind Kirk Cousins.
Luke Falk will be elevated from the practice squad to be the No. 2 quarterback.
Gase broke the news to the players in Thursday morning’s team meeting.
“We talked about our next-man philosophy does not waver,” the coach said. “It’s about everybody doing their job. That’s why Trevor is here. We signed Trevor specifically because of his 24 starts with a winning record. He has a lot of experience and has been on winning ballclubs. He has the respect of the locker room.
“The reaction I got, and the ways guys looked, was, ‘Let’s go.’ There’s confidence there.”
The Caesars Sportsbook reopened with the Browns minus-4 and a total of 44.5. Before the Darnold news, the line had been Browns minus-2.5 with a total of 46. The line is as high as Browns minus-5.5 at other Vegas sportsbooks.