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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- New York Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith is heading north this week to face the New England Patriots, hoping for a 2-0 start, and former starter Mark Sanchez is heading south to have his injured throwing shoulder examined by Dr. James Andrews.
Coach Rex Ryan confirmed Monday that Sanchez, hurt 16 days ago in the team's third preseason game, is seeking a second opinion. Ryan acknowledged the obvious, announcing that Sanchez won't play this week and that Smith will start Thursday night in Foxborough. But it's still not a permanent gig for the former West Virginia star, as Ryan declined to end the week-to-week competition.
In reality, it's over. Sanchez is out indefinitely, although the team continues to say he's day to day.
"It's not that he had a setback or anything else," Ryan said. "We're going to take this time to get a different opinion to make sure everybody is very comfortable with where he's at."
Ryan said it was a mutual decision between the organization and Sanchez to have him travel to Birmingham to meet with Andrews, a renowned orthopedist. Sanchez is scheduled to be back in time to accompany the team to Foxborough, where he will watch from the sideline.
"We're getting every opinion possible," Sanchez said. "We're trying to go about this the right way. I don't think you can have too many opinions in a situation like this. I think it's prudent."
Sanchez appears to have a partially torn labrum, ESPN Senior NFL Insider Chris Mortensen reported Sunday. Other media reports said he has a shoulder subluxation (dislocation). It's possible he could have both. Surgery might not be necessary; it would depend on the location and severity of a tear. Sanchez could opt to rehab the injury.
Sanchez refused to get into the specifics of the injury or when he might return. He wouldn't say whether he hopes to play again this season or if he considers it a potential season-ending injury.
"Things are on track and, hopefully, it's a speedy track," he said.
General manager John Idzik indicated last week that the Jets have no plans to put Sanchez on injured reserve, but there's obvious concern he will miss significant time, or else they wouldn't have re-signed Brady Quinn as veteran insurance.
Sanchez revealed he has spoken to Woody Johnson since the owner's ill-advised comments from last week, when he suggested the quarterback was partially at fault for the injury. Johnson told reporters, "I wished he hadn't gotten hurt, but you've got to protect yourself, too." Sanchez wouldn't say if Johnson apologized.
"Listen, I wasn't there for the interview," Sanchez said. "I've talked to Woody plenty since then, so it's really a non-issue. ... I'm not going to get into the conversation. Things are great. Mr. Johnson is great. He does everything he can to help this team win. That's what we appreciate."
Those who showed up early for Sunday's 18-17 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers got to see the current state of Sanchez's health. During the pregame warm-ups, he threw for about 15 minutes -- left-handed. He remained on the sideline, providing support for Smith, who became the first rookie quarterback drafted in the second round or later since 1970 to throw for at least 250 yards in a Week 1 victory.
Smith (24-for-38, 256 yards) overcame some rough moments in the first half, including a fumble and an interception, to rally the Jets to two field goals in the fourth quarter, the latter set up by a 15-yard late hit on Bucs linebacker Lavonte David.
"Hopefully, it's something to grow from," Ryan said of Smith's performance, which included a touchdown pass to Kellen Winslow. "This is what we saw early in training camp. It's not a surprise he would have some success. He's feeling healthy now."
Smith missed the second preseason game with a sprained ankle. For a week, he hobbled through training camp practices, struggling at times with interceptions. He would've opened the season as the No. 2 quarterback, but he got the job by default after Sanchez was injured in the third preseason game. It came on a controversial decision by Ryan, who inserted Sanchez behind the backup offensive line in the fourth quarter.
Ryan said he was thrilled with Smith's debut, praising his ability to deliver the ball under pressure. He also noted Smith's downfield vision and awareness, knowing when to escape the pocket. His mobility may have been the deciding factor in the game.
With 15 seconds to play and the ball at his 45, Smith scrambled for 10 yards and was shoved by David after he stepped out of bounds -- a 15-yard penalty that set up Nick Folk's game-winning kick from 48 yards. Smith ended up rushing for a team-high 47 yards.
Smith doesn't have the elusiveness of Colin Kaepernick or Robert Griffin III, but he ran 4.59 in the 40 at the scouting combine, the best time among quarterbacks.
"Those extra six or seven yards, that's huge, compared to zero," Ryan said.
Smith said he doesn't feel slighted that he hasn't been named the permanent starter.
"I'm not worried about that," he said. "My job is day to day."
So is Sanchez's shoulder, supposedly.