Sam Darnold Cleared to Return for Jets

Quarterback Sam Darnold has been medically cleared to return to games by the winless Jets and will start on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys, the team announced on Tuesday.

Darnold had missed the Jets’ last three games and the team’s bye week after he was found to have mononucleosis. He took part in practices last week but was only cleared for full contact after having further tests Tuesday morning.

The Jets (0-4) have been ineffectual in his absence and are off to their worst start since 2003. Behind Luke Falk, the third starting quarterback the team has used this season, the offense only mustered 495 total yards and two offensive touchdowns in three games without Darnold.

The Jets currently rank last in the N.F.L. in offense (179.5 yards per game) and passing yards (113.5).

“Over all we just haven’t played very well,” Coach Adam Gase said on a conference call Monday. “There is no way around it. We just haven’t played very good as an offense in general.”

Darnold took most of the snaps with the first-team offense in practice last week, raising hopes that he would be cleared in time for the Jets’ Week 4 game against the Philadelphia Eagles. But he was ruled out for that game on Thursday night.

The Jets originally said that Darnold had been found to have a case of strep throat two days after the Jets’ Week 1 loss to the Buffalo Bills, but later tests revealed that he had mononucleosis. He said he knew something was off the night before the Bills game but did not tell anyone on the team’s coaching or medical staff.

“I wasn’t myself,” Darnold said the day after the game. “I wasn’t playing like myself. I felt a little more uncomfortable than I had been in the preseason and training camp.”

He spent the second week of the season at home recovering before he was cleared to return to the Jets’ training facility in mid-September. Darnold stood on the sidelines during Week 3 practices, fulfilling backup quarterback duties, including charting blitzes and watching film.

He watched the team’s Week 2 or Week 3 losses from his home, but traveled to Philadelphia for the team’s 31-6 loss to the Eagles in Week 5. Falk was sacked nine times in that game and the team only mustered 126 net yards.