Calling it the best news the Jets could have hoped for, head coach Rex Ryan announced today that Mark Sanchez has a sprained PCL and he’s hopeful that the rookie quarterback will be able to start the Jets’ next game at the Buccaneers on Dec. 13.
“We’re optimistic that he’ll be ready to play against Tampa Bay, but we’ll see how he progresses throughout the week,” Ryan said this afternoon after Sanchez had an MRI in the morning on his right knee. “Obviously that will be a decision that I’ll have to make with the advice of the medical staff and I’ll make the decision always in the best interest of Mark — and really any player in that situation — and the team second.”
Instinct took over for Sanchez yet again Thursday evening as he dived for a first down in the third quarter of the Jets’ 19-13 win over the Buffalo Bills at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Canada. Spotting an opening on a third-and-6 play from deep inside the Jets’ end, Sanchez went head-first and got 8 yards before getting hit by rookie corner Reggie Corner. Replays clearly showed the Jets signalcaller landing hard on his right leg on the rough turf and he came limping out of the ball game just two plays later.
“I’m just trying to get him to see the big picture: ‘I’m not going to make the first down this time. I’m going to slide and protect myself,’ ” Ryan said of the approach he wants from the 23-year-old passer. “It’s weird for me to say that, but it’s the truth. More than anything, I want him to be healthy.”
This is not a new request from Ryan. Months back when the Jets were going through summer paces in Cortland, N.Y., Sanchez memorably rolled out on a goal line drill and put his head first to cross the plain. Bart Scott had him lined up for a killer shot, but fortunately for Sanchez, the Madbacker recognized the red jersey and appropriately didn’t eliminate the young talent.
“We got on him in training camp when we had that little scrimmage one time around the goal line when he dove head first,” Ryan said. “This thing has been an ongoing thing. It’s not his instincts to do that and we’ve got to keep drilling it into him.”
Last Sunday against the Panthers, Sanchez injured his left knee on a scramble and missed just a few snaps. So Ryan reached out to the New York Yankees and their skipper, Joe Girardi, visited the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center on Tuesday and gave No. 6 a sliding lesson.
“He did a much better job than I would have,” said the Jets’ first-year head coach. “That’s a baseball maneuver on the football field.”
Even though Sanchez has great feet and has three rush touchdowns on the season, the Jets brought him here mostly for his arm. If he does take off in the future, they’re crossing their fingers he’ll slide legs first.
“If we had to play today, obviously he wouldn’t play, but we think he’ll progress throughout the week and hopefully be ready to roll against Tampa,” said Ryan who also indicated that Sanchez will wear a brace initially to stabilize the leg.
Rhodes to Base
Safety Eric Smith started for a second consecutive week, but Kerry Rhodes saw more time in the base than he did against the Panthers.
“I was trying to get Smitty a break — he’s playing on every special team," Ryan said. "It’s funny because I heard ‘Eric has 13 plays’ and I was like ‘What, that’s it?’
"We’re trying to use our players because this is a team — we’re going to do what’s best for our team. The more players you can play and have a bigger role, the better your team’s going to be, whether it’s been Jamaal Westerman in, whether it’s been Big Howard, Howard Green in there, we’re going to do that. We don’t just have 11 good football players."
Ryan did not disclose whether he planned on returning Rhodes to the starting lineup. The Jets defensive backfield had a great night against the Bills, holding Ryan Fitzpatrick to 98 gross passing yards and, after subtracting sack yardage, 71 net passing yards.
Shaun Ellis might be 32 years old, but he’s sharing the water with Thomas Jones. Ellis had two sacks Thursday, giving him a team-leading 6.5 this season, and Ryan loves the effort he continually gets from the longest-tenured Jet.
“He still plays like a young man. He gives great effort, he’s always hustling and he’s always productive. He’s a hard man to block one-on-one,” said Ryan who lauded Ellis for getting up off the ground to make the tackle on a second-quarter third-and-10 screen from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Fred Jackson that gained 8 yards.
“He has a great motor. He’s also got leadership skills. He’s a guy that can get his teammates pumped up. He loves to compete and he loves playing with this group. So he’s been a joy.”
Tags: Eric Smith, Kerry Rhodes, Mark Sanchez, Rex Ryan, Shaun Ellis
Posted in Eric Allen | 24 Comments »