Rex Ryan simply doesn’t know.
Following an injury to Mark Sanchez's right shoulder on Saturday night, the Jets head coach simply can’t or won’t say if his former first-round pick will be ready for the start of the regular season. Sanchez underwent X-rays following the third preseason game and had further tests on Sunday, with sources telling Metro New York there were no broken bones resulting from Giants defensive lineman Marvin Austin’s rough hit.
Sanchez has already been ruled out of practice this week and won’t play Thursday night against the Eagles as preseason wraps up.
“The fact that we’re saying that he’s out for Philadelphia and it’s a day-to-day [injury], that’s where we’re at right now,” Ryan said.
Ryan would not say if Sanchez would need more tests. Reports on Sunday indicated the fifth-year veteran would undergo further evaluation.
Sanchez, who was maligned as recently as this past weekend by most Jets fans, suddenly appears as the team’s best bet to start the season if healthy. Rookie Geno Smith, who threw three interceptions in his first start of preseason on Saturday night, appears nowhere near ready to start let alone make an impact.
It is horrible timing for Sanchez, who after Smith’s poor performance seemed ready to retain the starting job. Now the injury casts doubt on whether he can be ready for Week 1.
“I’m obviously not happy that I’m hurt,” Sanchez said. “I felt I was putting together a good camp so it’s an unfortunate thing. But there’s no time to gripe about it — just have to rehab as hard as I can. I know we have the best trainers and they’re going to put me in the best position possible. Try and get back for the first week.”
Jets quarterback coach David Lee told reporters last week he was fine with the idea of letting the quarterback competition play out to the fourth preseason game. Sanchez is a known quantity, relatively solid and not spectacular but prone to gaffes of the spectacular variety. Most Jets fans have given up on him ever living up to the promise that made him the No. 5 overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft.
While he is full of promise, Smith showed on Saturday night that his big arm is not enough to combat deficiencies in adjusting from a spread offense in college to the Jets’ West Coast system.
“I may have been late on a couple passes here or there,” Smith said Monday. “A couple of my passes weren’t as sharp as I’ve always been. It’s just something that can be corrected. Myself, coach Lee, [offensive coordinator] Marty [Mornhinweg], we’re all going to do an extremely great job of pinpointing those mistakes and then correcting them.”
Ryan, as vague as he has ever been in what is now his fifth year with the Jets, wouldn’t commit to giving Smith his second start of preseason in the final game of preseason.
“The determination specifically about playing against Philadelphia this week, we haven’t made that determination on any of our players yet,” Ryan said.
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.