EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Jets closed the preseason Thursday night without a starting quarterback in place, but there's a growing feeling within the organization that rookie Geno Smith will be the opening-day starter.
Smith was held out of the final game, a 27-20 win against the Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium, because the Jets didn't want to expose him to potential injury, knowing he could start next week. Mark Sanchez, nursing a bruised joint in his throwing shoulder, still hasn't resumed throwing, according to sources.
"He's not there yet," one team source said.
Coach Rex Ryan provided no clarity, saying Sanchez remains day to day. Ryan said the Jets won't give an update on his status until Wednesday, when they will be required to issue an injury report.
Smith said he will approach the coming week as if he's the starter.
"Yes, sir, business as usual," he said after the game.
Ryan might not declare a winner to the summerlong quarterback competition, sources said, because he wants to leave wiggle room in the event Smith starts the opener and plays well.
Sanchez outplayed Smith in the preseason, if only because Smith struggled in his one extended outing, but the organization is trying to accelerate the transition from the embattled incumbent to the rookie.
Ryan, who has appeared uncomfortable answering quarterback-related questions in recent days, dodged when asked why he decided to sit Smith in the finale.
"We wanted to get a good look at [Matt] Simms, we really did," he said. "I think he's earned that right."
Simms, in his first career start, probably locked up the No. 3 job with a 33-for-44, 285-yard performance. But there was more to the decision than wanting to play Simms. Even Smith knew the deal.
"Obviously, you've got to prepare for the regular season, and with Mark being down, you just can't take any risks," he said. "So I think that was pretty much the reason for it."
Sanchez tried to avoid using his right arm when shaking hands with opposing players during the pregame warm-ups. He didn't wear a sling, but his right arm mostly hung at his side.
Sanchez, who watched the game from the sideline in warm-up garb, left the stadium without speaking to reporters. He hopes to learn more about his status over the weekend, when he's scheduled to be examined by the medical staff. He injured his shoulder Saturday when Ryan, in a controversial decision, inserted Sanchez behind the second-team line in the fourth quarter.
Meanwhile, Smith stood beside offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg throughout the game, monitoring the play calls with an earpiece.
"It gives you a chance to play situational football when you're not in, and I think it's really helpful, especially for me not having played in many situations in this league," Smith said.
Smith played less than four quarters in the preseason, throwing three interceptions and one touchdown. He imploded last week against the New York Giants, blowing a chance to secure the job. Now the Jets face the prospect of starting him against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"Whether or not I've played enough, who's to say?" Smith said, admitting his sprained ankle still isn't 100 percent. "It's very hypothetical. I've definitely gained a lot of experience in my time in the games. Whether or not I'm ready, we'll find out on game day, and I think I'll be ready for it."