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Sam Darnold: Pressure is what you make of it

The NFL reportedly will test vaccinated players and staff members more frequently than every 14 days and Mike Florio explains why this is the right move, given the escalation of COVID-19.

Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey sang quarterback Sam Darnold’s praises on Tuesday and other Panthers players have done the same this offseason, but there were plenty of nice things said about Darnold in the spring and summer the last few years as well.

Once Darnold hit the field with the Jets in the fall, though, the results weren’t quite as good. That led the Jets to start over with Zach Wilson after trading Darnold to Carolina, which was a move that set Darnold up with a stronger supporting cast than he had with his original team.

It also sets up pressure for Darnold to show that it was the Jets’ situation rather than his own shortcomings that led to so many offensive problems the last three years. On Tuesday, Darnold shared his view on that amount of pressure with reporters.

“I mean, it is what you make of it,” Darnold said, via the team’s website. “Anyone outside looking in can say, ‘Oh, there’s pressure on him he’s got to win,’ and that’s true. But at the end of the day, it’s just me going out there and doing everything I can do to get better. And at the end of the day making smart decisions on the field and leading my team down the field and scoring touchdowns is my job.”

Darnold said the start of camp also starts his visualization process for the first week of the regular season. That game will come against the Jets, which Darnold called both “just a coincidence” and a bit of “reality TV” scheduling. Either way, his play in that game will draw plenty of attention from those trying to peg winners and losers from the offseason trade.