Jets’ Sanchez Targets Week 1 Return With Starting Job Unsettled

Mark Sanchez said his goal is to be recovered from a right shoulder injury by the opening week of the regular season. Whether he’ll be the New York Jets’ starting quarterback even if healthy is still uncertain.

Sanchez, the Jets’ starter the past four National Football League seasons, won’t play in the team’s final preseason game on Aug. 29 after hurting his throwing shoulder. The injury means that rookie Geno Smith may grab the starting role.

Jets coach Rex Ryan said yesterday that he’ll wait until after the final preseason game to settle the quarterback controversy. Sanchez said he’s focused on getting healthy and not on who will be the starter.

“I felt like I was putting together a good camp, so it’s an unfortunate thing,” Sanchez told reporters after sitting out yesterday’s practice. “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 get me in the best position possible to try and get back for the first week.”

The Jets open the regular season Sept. 8 at home against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Sanchez, 26, repeatedly declined yesterday to give any details of his injury or talk about his rehabilitation process. The Jets officially have listed his status as day-to-day and Sanchez says he plans to be ready to go by Week 1.

“That’s the goal, so we’ll just keep our fingers crossed and take it day-to-day,” said Sanchez, who has committed an NFL-high 52 turnovers over the past two seasons. “Every day it’s getting a little better.”

Whose Advantage?

Ryan declined to say whether Sanchez would have the edge for the starting job if he’s healthy in Week 1.

Sanchez has completed 28 of 42 passes for 366 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions during the preseason. The 22-year-old Smith, who hurt his ankle in the Jets’ preseason opener, has connected on 22 of 37 passes for 246 yards, with one touchdown and three interceptions.

“I’m not going to put myself or anybody in a box and say, ‘Well, specifically it’s going to be this or this based on Mark’s injury, based on whatever, Geno’s ankle,’ whatever it is,” Ryan said. “That’s why we’ll let it play out and when we’re ready to name the starter, we will.”

Sanchez was injured late in the fourth quarter of the Jets’ preseason win against the Giants after replacing Smith, who was intercepted three times.

“I feel like I’ve put together a great camp and it’s been my best camp,” Sanchez said when asked about being the starter. “That decision is going to be up to the coaches.”

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