Sanchez: 'Not here to second-guess'
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Rex Ryan has been heavily criticized for playing quarterback Mark Sanchez in the fourth quarter of Saturday's preseason game. But Sanchez himself, who was injured during the game, said Monday that he had no problem with the move.
"I'm not here to second-guess the coaches," Sanchez said. "If they call you to play, you better be ready to play, and I was. So I went in and played and tried to win."
He added: "Look, I'm a competitor. And as a player, it's not my job to worry about when you're going in, who's in, what string, this or that. If they call your number, you've got to play and that's what I do, that's what I've always done. That's not my call. That's the coach's decision."
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Sanchez suffered a shoulder injury when he was hit by New York Giants defensive lineman Marvin Austin. His availability for the Jets' season opener Sept. 8 against Tampa Bay is in doubt, a source told ESPNNewYork.com's Rich Cimini.
Ryan on Monday said he had no regrets about inserting Sanchez into the game when he did. The move was considered by many to be an odd and risky one, considering Sanchez presumably was the Jets' Week 1 starter.
"From my standpoint, I have to move forward, we have to move forward and that's where we're at," Ryan said. "What's happened in the past, you can't do anything about. You've got to focus on the present and the future, and that's where we are right now."
The injury has left the Jets' starting quarterback competition in disarray. Ryan would not even name a starter for the Jets' final preseason game Thursday against Philadelphia -- a point in the schedule when most teams have their quarterback situations settled.
I'm not here to second-guess the coaches. If they call you to play you better be ready to play and I was. So I went in, and played and tried to win.” -- Mark Sanchez
"There's still one more preseason game to be played and I'm not going to put myself or anybody in a box here to say that, specifically, it's going to be this or this," Ryan said. "… We'll let it play out and when we're ready to name a starter, we will."
The Jets have refused to elaborate on the condition of Sanchez's shoulder. The team announced only that Sanchez had a "shoulder injury" and is day to day.
But a league source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter that an MRI exam Sunday revealed a bruised right shoulder joint. The source said the team will not know how long Sanchez will be sidelined until he resumes throwing.
Sanchez is not expected to practice again until Friday at the earliest.
This means the summer-long question -- Sanchez or Geno Smith? -- likely will continue in the run up to Week 1.
"We've said from Day 1 that there was no timetable on us announcing a starting quarterback," Ryan said.
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Sanchez appeared to be on the verge of claiming the starting job, thanks to a three-interception implosion Saturday night by Smith. But in his second series against the Giants, Sanchez was leveled by Austin as he scrambled outside the pocket. He went down hard, clutching his shoulder and grimacing in pain.
Ryan turned defensive in his postgame news conference, claiming he put Sanchez in the game because he wanted to beat the Giants.
A source told ESPNNewYork.com that Sanchez had not expected to play against the Giants. But on Monday, Sanchez said that the coaches told him before the game to be ready to play.
Sanchez said his shoulder was "a little sore" but improving. He added that his goal remains to be ready to play Week 1.
"That's in all of our plans," Sanchez said. "I'm trying to get back as soon as possible and be ready to practice as soon as possible."
If Sanchez isn't ready for the opener, the Jets will have to use Smith, who showed in his first extended outing that he isn't ready for the job. He completed 16 of 30 passes for 199 yards but threw three interceptions in 12 pass attempts. He also made a big mental mistake, taking a safety by stepping out of the back of the end zone as he tried to escape mild pressure.
The Jets won in overtime 24-21.
"I think Geno's done a lot of really good things," Ryan said. "Did he have a rough night [Saturday]? Yes, he absolutely did. But again, I feel confident in him."
Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.
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