The Jets still have a shot at the postseason, but they'll have to add to their modest two-game win streak Sunday in Tampa without rookie QB Mark Sanchez. After starting the Green & White's first 12 regular-season games, Sanchez will remain in New Jersey this weekend rehabbing his right knee.
"I'd love to play and I think if this was the Super Bowl, I definitely would be playing," he said today in his weekly news conference.
Sanchez suffered a sprained PCL in the third quarter of last Thursday's 19-13 win over the Buffalo Bills at Rogers Centre in Toronto. It appeared he injured the knee on an 8-yard scramble on third-and-6 to keep a drive alive. While Sanchez isn't exactly sure when the injury occurred, he was surely crestfallen this afternoon.
"It was disappointing. I'm pretty upset about it. I understand [head coach Rex Ryan] wants to make the right decision for me, but it's just a frustrating part of this game," he said after receiving word following practice. "I asked him if I could at least try to practice tomorrow and he said 'No way' because he said, 'I know if you're going to practice tomorrow, then you're going to play and we don't want to run any risk of further injury.' "
The positive news for Sanchez is that his knee has gotten progressively better. But Ryan is being cautious with his young signalcaller because the 6'2", 225-pounder is not 100 percent.
"The kind of motion you use, the steps that you use, the kind of planting and force that goes into the ground is a lot different at quarterback than it is at maybe another position," Sanchez said. "So that's why when people say, 'Oh, it's just a pain tolerance thing,' it's not necessarily the case. They want me to be 100 percent and not have to worry about somebody coming after it or me having any second thoughts when I'm in the pocket."
Kellen Clemens, the fourth-year player from Oregon, will make his ninth pro start and first since the 2007 season finale this weekend. It promises to be a difficult couple of days for the competitive Sanchez as he'll now target the Jets' Week 15 encounter with the Atlanta Falcons for his return.
"The last time I felt like this, I was a redshirt freshman and you don't travel to a game. It's just a weird feeling," he said. "You want to be there supporting, but I also understand that those two days that I'd be traveling and going, I can get valuable treatment and that will help me get back for Atlanta. That's my timetable. I'll support the heck out of these guys, lead 'em like I always do and trust in Kellen that he's going to do well like we all know he will, and be ready for Atlanta. That's the goal."
In 12 games, Sanchez has completed 53.2 percent of his passes for 2,049 yards with 11 TDs and 17 INTs. Although Ryan has repeatedly urged him to slide instead of making head-first dives, the decision was not punitive.
"I would love to be on the field and I'll be pushing like crazy," said the somber passer. "The doctors have been just ecstatic about my progress and they say this thing usually swells like a balloon and that's where you really miss time when this thing swells up like crazy and you can't bend it all the way and stuff. I'm doing a lot better than a lot of people, but like I said, it's a different injury.
"A lot of guys just put a brace on and they hobble down the field. I'm not in that position right now. I need to be effective."