Jets’ Sanchez aiming to be back for Week 1

Mark Sanchez is hoping to return for the start of the regular

season.

The New York Jets quarterback, dealing with a shoulder injury,

rode a stationary bike at practice Monday but didn’t participate in

any throwing drills. He has been ruled out for the team’s final

preseason game Thursday against Philadelphia, and won’t practice

until Friday at the earliest.

”I’m a little sore,” Sanchez said. ”I have an injured

shoulder here, so I’ll just take it day to day and keep rehabbing

and try to get back as soon as possible.”

During the 30-minute window that reporters are allowed to watch,

Sanchez was among a group off to the side of the practice field and

had his right arm at his side as he pedaled.

Neither Sanchez nor coach Rex Ryan would go into details of the

injury or the rehabilitation process. The Jets announced Sunday

only that Sanchez is ”day-to-day” with an injured shoulder.

Still, Sanchez is hoping to be ready to go when the team opens

the regular season at home on Sept. 8 against the Tampa Bay

Buccaneers.

”That’s in all of our plans,” he said. ”I’m trying to get

back as soon as possible, and be able to practice as soon as

possible.”

Sanchez, who appeared in good shape to beat out rookie Geno

Smith for the starting job, was hurt late in the fourth quarter

when he took a hard hit in the shoulder from Giants defensive

lineman Marvin Austin after he completed a pass.

Sanchez stayed on the turf, clutching his shoulder and writhing

in pain for a few moments as the team’s trainers ran out to check

on him. When he eventually got up, the quarterback flexed his right

arm and hand as he headed to the sideline. He took a practice throw

on the sideline and appeared to shake his head ”No.” Trainers

wrapped his shoulder in ice before taking him to the locker

room.

Ryan has taken a lot of heat from media and fans since making

the decision to bringing in Sanchez that late in the game behind an

offensive line made up of backups. It also appeared Sanchez was a

bit surprised on the sideline to come into the game at that

point.

”If they call your number, you got to play,” he said. ”That’s

what I do and that’s what I’ve always done. They said to be ready

to play and I was ready to play.”

Both Ryan and Smith said that was the plan all along, to have

Sanchez follow the rookie during the game. While it was the

second-team offense, it was similar to the line Sanchez played with

in the third quarter of last week’s win over Jacksonville. It still

seemed somewhat curious why Sanchez – who many assumed had moved

ahead in the competition – would be put in at that point.

”I’m a competitor,” Sanchez said. ”And, as a player, it’s not

my job to worry about when you’re going in or who’s in, whatever,

what string, this or that. If they call your number, you’ve got to

play. That’s what I do, and that’s what I’ve always done.”

Sanchez also refused to criticize Ryan’s decision to play him

when he did.

”I’m not here to second-guess the coaches,” he said. ”If they

call you to play, you better be ready to play. And I was.”

Ryan reiterated that he didn’t think he had made a mistake

playing Sanchez when he did. After the game, the coach insisted

that if it wasn’t ”important,” he wouldn’t have put him in.

”You guys know exactly how I feel about that,” Ryan said. ”Do

I regret that he got injured? Of course. But, no, again – I’m not

going to say anything more about it because I think I’ve covered it

already.”

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org