Sanchez on Friday's start: I earned it

August, 7, 2013
8/07/13
3:29
PM ET
CORTLAND, N.Y. -- Mark Sanchez seems to have gained confidence after the New York Jets' decision to start him in the preseason opener in Detroit on Friday.

"I feel like I'm putting together a good camp and think I earned the right to start in this first game," Sanchez said. "We'll see how it goes from there, but I have to keep playing well to stay on the field and that's the plan."

That confidence extends to his team, which Sanchez said can reach the playoffs despite personnel issues and widespread doubt from outside the organization.

"I think you have to have that mentality that this team is built to last," Sanchez said. "That we're built to make a strong run, to get hot at the right time, to sustain some injuries and then move on from them. Get guys healthy as soon as possible. I mean, it's natural, it happens every year.

"But I feel like we have the talent to make that happen and now it's about realizing that talent on the field and going out and playing well."

Sanchez was told he got the nod in the quarterback meeting on Tuesday. Geno Smith, the rookie quarterback also vying for the starting job, had a subdued response when asked about being the first backup, at least on paper.

"I don't have any reaction toward it," Smith said. "The competition is still open. I'm just continuing to work and to grow."

Smith said he hasn't been told if he will start a preseason game, and when coach Rex Ryan was posed the question, he said he is just waiting to see how things develop. The competition is still too close to call, and despite some growing pains, Smith has impressed with his arm and his accuracy.

Still, Sanchez said he never doubted that he would start the first game.

"No, I just don't think about not playing ever," Sanchez said. "That really doesn't affect the way I approach things, the way I practice, the way I play."

Jets center Nick Mangold said Sanchez has his eye on the regular season starting job.

"He seems pretty focused in what he's doing," Mangold said of Sanchez. "Anytime I peak in the room, he's studying or watching film or getting his own little rehab in. I think he's focused and he's got a desire to win the job, and they're putting together a pretty good competition so far."

Getting a preseason starting job is just the first step, but Sanchez seems to have gained confidence from the role.

"Felt like the natural thing and something I've been used to," Sanchez said.
Jane McManus has covered New York sports since 1998 and began covering football just before Brett Favre's stint with the Jets. Her work has appeared in Newsday, USA Today, The Journal News and The New York Times. Follow Jane on Twitter.

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