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Why Sam Darnold’s interception total should not worry New York Jets

Sam Darnold leads the NFL with 10 interceptions this season.

Reason to panic? Hardly.

In fact, the Jets rookie quarterback looks like he is right in line with other first-round quarterbacks through their first seven games. Peyton Manning (14), Matthew Stafford (12) and Troy Aikman (12) all threw more interceptions than Darnold through their first seven games. Alex Smith equaled him in 2005 with 10.

Everything about Darnold’s rookie season is understandably under the microscope as the Jets try to determine whether they have landed a franchise quarterback.

The truth is we are not going to know the answer to that question for several years. The Redskins thought they had one in Robert Griffin III in 2012 and that did not work out. Everyone was crowning Derek Carr two years ago, and now there is talk of the Raiders trading him.

But as he hits the halfway point of his rookie season Sunday in Chicago, the Jets have been pleased with what they have seen from Darnold.

“Mentally he’s grown, it doesn’t show on the stat category, but it’s not always going to show on the stat category,” coach Todd Bowles said. “As far as his maturation process and progress of reading defenses, making audibles and getting in and out of the huddle and understanding where he’s going with the football, I’m very pleased with that.”

Darnold has had the ups and downs you would expect for a rookie. Two weeks ago, he completed 80 percent of his passes against the Colts. Last week, he completed just 40 percent against the Vikings.

His 10 touchdown passes through seven games are more than Andrew Luck (8) or Manning (9) threw in their first seven games. His completion percentage of 56.1 is better than Luck (55.6) or Aikman (50.3) and much better than Eli Manning (43.6).

“I think that’s kind of at the end of the season when we can sit back and break down all 16 games, but we know he’s coming to work every day,” offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates said. “The game is not too big for him. He’s studying, he’s understanding defenses better every week and we are excited where he is going and where he is at.”

The Jets signed RB De’Angelo Henderson off the practice squad Saturday to give them a third running back behind starter Isaiah Crowell and rookie Trenton Cannon. They released CB Juston Burris to open the roster spot. Burris was their fourth-round pick in 2016.

Cannon about to have an increased role after Bilal Powell was lost for the season to a neck injury. The coaches believe he is ready for it.

“I think he feels like he belongs in the league now,” Bates said. “I think that’s a big step for a lot of guys, especially when you’re coming from a smaller school. Sometimes it takes one game, sometimes it takes a season.”

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