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Flacco aims to help Jets, be someone 'Sam can lean on'

Joe Flacco isn't going to be ready in time for the regular season, but he plans on making the most of his opportunity if and when his name is called.

The quarterback underwent a neck procedure in April that will sideline him beyond what Flacco referred to as "Day 1" on Tuesday, but that didn't stop the Jets from signing him to a one-year deal last week. He's focused on getting healthy enough to play, which isn't exactly in anyone's plans when talking about a backup quarterback, but is always a possibility when occupying the No. 2 role on the depth chart. More importantly for the Jets, he's out to lend his veteran wisdom to franchise quarterback Sam Darnold as the youngster enters his third professional season.

"I want to first and foremost help the team in any way possible, but also be a guy that Sam can lean on and that [he] can learn from," Flacco said, via Newsday. "Those are the two most important things: Help out the guys on the team and help out Sam to do all they can."

No. 1 belongs to Darnold, who entered his second season with optimism and saw much of it washed away by mononucleosis, which forced him out of action for a month and undercut New York's chances of a decent start to 2019. The Jets languished under the guidance of Trevor Siemian and Luke Falk, and general manager Joe Douglas attempted to avoid such a reality in 2020 by signing Flacco.

The hope is, of course, that Darnold remains healthy and can play all 16 games. Buried in that idealistic approach is also the hope Flacco is available to play if Plan B is necessary. The Jets don't want to again find themselves in a perilous situation in which they're forced to hand the rental car keys to an inexperienced driver.

And if Flacco does find himself on the field, it's showtime for a former Super Bowl MVP whose goal is to play his way back into a starting job somewhere in the NFL. At 35 years old, Flacco has no plans to hang it up anytime soon, even if his short-lived tenure in Denver -- a struggle-filled campaign that ended before November -- indicated otherwise.

"For me personally, I want to play football," Flacco said. "I had some things happen, got injured, had to have surgery. I got to find my way back into the league. I want to play for years to come. I think these guys have given me a great opportunity and hope I can make the most of whatever my situation and whatever my role ends up being."

That role, for now, is veteran on the mend who can use his brain and communication skills to best help the Jets. It could become temporary starter for the Jets -- or it could end up being a season-long headset-wearing clipboard holder.

For now, few are focused on a Flacco redemption tale. We can check back in September and beyond to see if the chances of finding a starting job have improved.

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