Sep 12, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA;  Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold (14) scores a touchdown in the second quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Sam Darnold haunts former team as Panthers top Jets

Sam Darnold had a solid debut with the Carolina Panthers and his new team’s defense ruined New York Jets rookie Zach Wilson’s first NFL game in a 19-14 victory Sunday afternoon at Charlotte, N.C.

Darnold had a passing touchdown and rushing touchdown against his former team, with 279 yards passing by going 24 of 35 with no interceptions.

The outcome also upended the Jets head coaching debut of Robert Saleh, who had been a San Francisco 49ers assistant coach.

Wilson, the No. 2 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, ended up 20 of 37 for 258 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.

The Jets managed only 252 yards of total offense while Wilson was sacked six times for minus-51 yards.

Darnold also made good use of running back Christian McCaffrey, the Carolina standout who was limited to three games last season because of injuries.

McCaffrey was Carolina’s leading rusher and receiver. He gained 98 yards on 21 carries on the ground, including a key 18-yard run on the game’s last possession to help the Panthers close out the victory. He also caught nine passes for 89 yards.

Wilson’s first touchdown pass went for 22 yards to Corey Davis with 1:25 remaining in the third quarter. Wilson ran in a two-point conversion as the Jets trimmed their deficit to 16-8.

Ryan Santoso’s 29-yard field goal for Carolina pushed the Jet’s gap to 19-8 with 8:44 remaining.

New York made it interesting when Wilson connected with Davis for an 8-yard touchdown with 1:56 left to get within the final margin. Wilson’s two-point conversion pass failed.

At the midway mark of the second quarter, the Panthers had outgained New York 153-51, yet held only a 3-0 lead on Santoso’s 22-yard field goal. Those points came after Carolina linebacker Shaq Thompson returned a Wilson interception 29 yards to the Jets’ 32.

Darnold threw a 57-yard TD pass to Robby Anderson on the first play of a possession and then ran 5 yards on a quarterback draw for a score as part of Carolina’s 16-point second quarter.

By halftime, Darnold had thrown for 234 yards and was on his way to erasing some of the misery that developed during his past three seasons with the Jets.

Davis had 97 yards on five receptions for the Jets.

–Field Level Media

Jul 28, 2021; Florham Park, NJ, United States; New York Jets offensive tackle Mekhi Becton (77) looks on during training camp at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Jets LT Mekhi Becton (knee) carted to locker room

New York Jets starting left tackle Mekhi Becton was carted off the field after a knee injury in the third quarter of Sunday’s season opener at Carolina.

The Jets said the 2020 first-round draft pick was doubtful to return.

Becton, 22, was injured on the same play that rookie quarterback Zach Wilson tossed his first NFL touchdown pass, a 22-yarder to Corey Davis with 1:35 left in the third quarter.

Players took a knee on the field as trainers and head coach Robert Saleh attended to Becton, who limped off the field with assistance before being loaded onto a cart.

Becton started 13 of his 14 games as a rookie in 2020.

–Field Level Media

Jul 27, 2021; Florham Park, NJ, United States;  New York Jets defensive end Carl Lawson (58) talks with the media on training camp report day at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Jets DE Carl Lawson carted off with apparent leg injury

New York Jets defensive end Carl Lawson left Thursday’s joint practice with the host Green Bay Packers after suffering an apparent left leg injury.

Lawson was surrounded by teammates and coaches before being taken away on a cart.

The Jets signed the 26-year-old pass rusher in March to a three-year, $45 million contract that includes a reported $30 million in guaranteed money.

A fourth-round pick by Cincinnati in 2017, Lawson posted 20 sacks, 81 tackles, 83 quarterback hits and two forced fumbles in 51 games (14 starts) with the Bengals.

He contributed 36 tackles, 32 QB hits and 5 1/2 sacks in 16 games (11 starts) last season.

–Field Level Media

Jul 31, 2021; Florham Park, NJ, USA; A general view of a New York Jets helmet on the field during training camp at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Former Jets coach Joe Walton dies at 85

Former New York Jets head football coach Joe Walton died Sunday at the age of 85.

Walton coached the Jets for seven seasons in the 1980s and Robert Morris University for 20 seasons from 1994-2013.

Walton grew up in Pennsylvania and attended Pitt, where he played tight end and was a unanimous All-American in 1956.

He was drafted 14th overall in the 1957 NFL Draft and played seven seasons in the NFL, four with Washington and three with the New York Giants.

His coaching career began in 1969 as the wide receivers coach for the Giants. He was an assistant with the Giants and with Washington before the Jets hired him as their offensive coordinator in 1981.

“He was my coach, and my friend,” Hall of Famer and former Washington quarterback Joe Theismann tweeted Sunday. “He taught me how to play QB at the pro level. He touched so many lives whether it was in pro ball or at the college level.”

After two years as an offensive coordinator in New York, the Jets named him head coach to replace Walt Michaels. From 1983-1989, Walton led the Jets to the playoffs twice and finished with a 53-57-1 record.

He also worked as the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator for two seasons from 1990-1991.

Walton was hired by FCS Robert Morris to be its first ever football coach in 1993, building the program in his image. He coached the Colonials to six conference titles in 20 years — including a perfect 10-0 campaign in 2000 — and finished with a 115-92-1 record. In 2005, the school opened its new football venue: Joe Walton Stadium.

“Coach Walton took our football program from nothing to something special,” Robert Morris senior associate athletic director Marty Galosi said in a statement. “The fact that he built it from scratch and won early on was a bonus. He was a great coach, but he was a better man as well as a role model for all of the student-athletes and coaches that were under his tutelage. His legacy at RMU will last a long time.”

–Field Level Media

Aug 24, 2018; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins offensive tackle Morgan Moses (76) stretches during warm-ups prior to the Redskins' game against the Denver Broncos at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Jets announce signing of veteran tackle Morgan Moses

The New York Jets officially signed veteran right tackle Morgan Moses on Friday.

Previous reports said Moses agreed to a one-year, $3.6 million deal that could be worth up to $5.3 million if he plays 80 percent of the team’s snaps in 2021.

Moses, 30, was released by the Washington Football Team in May. He started every game at right tackle over the past six seasons for Washington.

Washington reportedly saved $7.75 million by releasing Moses, who signed a five-year, $38.5 million deal prior in April 2017.

Overall, he has started 97 of 104 games played since entering the NFL with Washington in 2014. He played college football at Virginia and was a third-round draft selection.

–Field Level Media

December 23, 2018; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers defensive end Ronald Blair (98) during the fourth quarter against the Chicago Bears at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Jets sign former 49ers DE Ronnie Blair

The New York Jets signed former San Francisco 49ers defensive end Ronnie Blair and waived defensive lineman Sharif Finch on Tuesday.

Blair, 28, missed the 2020 season while recovering from a torn ACL and was waived by the 49ers in March.

The 2016 fifth-round draft pick has 13.5 sacks, 27 quarterback hits, 88 tackles, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery in 47 career games (two starts).

Finch, 25, joined the Jets’ practice squad last November after being cut from the Chicago Bears’ practice squad.

Undrafted in 2018, Finch has played in 26 games (three starts) for the Tennessee Titans (2018-19) and Jets and has 3.5 sacks, 41 tackles, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.

–Field Level Media

Dec 9, 2018; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins wide receiver Josh Doctson (18) runs with the ball past New York Giants cornerback B.W. Webb (23) in the fourth quarter at FedEx Field. The Giants won 40-16. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Jets cut former first-round WR Josh Doctson

The New York Jets on Friday released wide receiver Josh Doctson, a former first-round draft pick who opted out of the 2020 season over COVID-19 concerns.

Doctson, 28, was the 22nd overall pick by Washington in the 2016 NFL Draft.

He caught 81 passes for 1,100 yards and eight touchdowns in 33 games (26 starts) with Washington from 2016-18.

He signed with the Minnesota Vikings on Sept. 4, 2019, and appeared in one game. He recorded no catches and was cut on Nov. 27.

Doctson signed with the Jets on Feb. 24, 2020, and was placed on the injured reserve/opt-out list on Aug. 6.

New York also released cornerback Kyron Brown, tight end Connor Davis, offensive lineman Leo Koloamatangi, kicker Chase McLaughlin and wide receiver Jaleel Scott.

–Field Level Media

Aug 15, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; New York Jets defensive tackle Quinnen Williams (95) shown on the bench against the Atlanta Falcons during the first half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Jets DT Quinnen Williams recovering after foot surgery

New York Jets defensive tackle Quinnen Williams underwent surgery Thursday to repair a broken bone in his foot, NFL Network reported Friday.

Dr. Robert Anderson performed the procedure and the expected recovery time is 10 to 12 weeks, per the report.

The timeline means Williams, 23, will miss OTAs and minicamp but should be healthy in time for training camp in late July.

The 2019 first-round pick (third overall) broke a small bone in his foot working out last week at the Jets’ facility.

Williams made 13 starts last season and recorded 55 tackles and a team-high seven sacks. His career totals include 83 tackles, 9 1/2 sacks, 20 quarterback hits, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery in 26 games (22 starts).

–Field Level Media