Sam Darnold will have some specialized pads in his first game back as the New York Jets starting quarterback. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported Darnold will wear customized pads to protect his spleen in his first game back from suffering mononucleosis, which sidelined him for a month. 

Darnold was being cautious with his spleen even before he was cleared to return, which is enlarged as a common symptom of mono. The extra padding is a custom-made brace that will protect his midsection. A hit to that midsection could rupture his spleen if the swelling didn’t go down in time, which kept Darnold out of last Sunday’s loss to the Philadelphia Eagles

“It’s a tough thing because you want to stay safe,” Darnold said to reporters last week. “I want to make sure that I’m safe out there and I’m not going to die.”

Darnold will need all the protection he can get behind the Jets’ offensive line, which allowed 10 sacks to the Eagles last week and has allowed a total of 23 sacks in the team’s four games. 

“I’m not worried about [how dangerous playing quarterback is after being sick],” Darnold said after Jets practice Thursday, via Mollie Walker of the New York Post. “When I’m out there playing, I’m not worried about guys hitting me or anything. I’m trusting the guys up front to do their things and I’m trusting the receivers to go out and get open when it’s time to pass the ball.

“For me, it’s all about trust. When I do get hit I know that I’m not in danger anymore, they’re letting me go out there and play because it’s safe. So, I’m not worried about that.”

Darnold has played just one game this year, going 28 for 41 for 175 yards and a touchdown in the season-opening loss to the Buffalo Bills. The Jets could certainly use Darnold to spark their offense, as they rank 31st in points and last in yards.