FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Mark Sanchez, the man at the heart of the New York Jets' most recent turn of events in an ongoing quarterback drama, is doing his best to shoulder whatever it takes to be the team's starter.
Or, in the alternative, at least be able to play. And in the interim, he does not want to discuss whether head coach Rex Ryan's unusual behavior recently is impacting the coach's relationship with the players.
Sanchez is sidelined by a shoulder injury, incurred under bizarre circumstances Saturday night in a preseason game against the New York Giants.
Sanchez, the Jets' starting quarterback since he was drafted in 2009, was inserted in Saturday night's game in the fourth quarter after rookie Geno Smith, who is arguably the heir apparent, made too many apparent errors -- three interceptions and a safety when he stepped out of the back of the end zone.
Rather than replace Smith with backups Matt Simms or Greg McElroy, Ryan put Sanchez in with the backups. Sanchez was brutalized and after being leveled on two consecutive plays, left the game with an injured right shoulder.
Ryan said after the game that the reason Sanchez was put in the game was because the team wanted to win. Given another chance Monday to explain that unusual move, Ryan instead said he already explained his actions after the game and wanted to move on.
And so does Sanchez. Move on, that is. He is focused on being ready for the season opener and doesn't care to discuss the circumstances under which he was injured or whether Ryan's unusual actions are impacting the coach's relationship with the players. Specifically, Sanchez would not respond directly when asked about the possibility of "Coach Ryan losing the locker room."
Interestingly, especially to aggressive the New York media at least, Sanchez would neither confirm nor deny that Ryan was "losing the locker room."
"I'm not going to speculate on that," Sanchez said. "I know he's our head coach. We play our butts off for him. He knows how to motivate us. He's doing his very best and that's what we expect of him, just like he expects out of us. He expects our best."
Although Ryan has not decided who will be the starter in the season opener against Tampa Bay, Sanchez says he just wants to be ready. For now he is listed as "day-to-day" by Ryan and is definitely out of the final preseason game, Thursday against the Philadelphia Eagles. But he clearly wants to be ready for the season opener.
"That's the goal, so (we will) just keep our fingers crossed and take it day-to-day," Sanchez said Monday. "That's in all of our plans. I'm trying to get back as soon as possible and be able to practice as soon as possible."
Sanchez said he was "a little sore. I have an injured shoulder here, so we'll just take it day-to-day, keep rehabbing and try and get back as soon as possible."
He said he thought he was doing well until the injury, which obviously frustrates him.
"I'm obviously not happy that I'm hurt," he said. "I felt like I was putting together a good camp, so it's an unfortunate thing. But there's no time to gripe about it. (I) 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."
Sanchez sidestepped questions on the topic of whether he should have been put into Saturday's games under those circumstances.
"Look, I'm a competitor and as a player it's not your job to worry about when you're going in, who's in, whatever, what string, this or that, if they call your number, you have to play and that's what I do, that's what I've always done. So, that's not my call. That's the coach's decision."
Sanchez said he hopes to return to practice as soon as Tuesday.
"If I can practice (Tuesday), I'll practice (Tuesday). But we just have to take it day-to-day," he said.