NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) – What’s all the fuss about? Mark Sanchez’s banged-up right arm feels fine, and so does his elbow.
So, hearing that his name was on the Jets’ injury report Wednesday surprised him a bit.
“They feel good,” the quarterback said of his arm and elbow. “Our training staff, they’re the best. They got me ready to roll. I took every rep in practice, so I feel good.”
Sanchez hit his arm on the helmet of Jacksonville’s Matt Roth late in New York’s 32-3 rout last Sunday. It was his last throw of the game, a pass intended to try to get Plaxico Burress a catch.
“I just banged it a little bit on the helmet,” he said. “You get your throwing motion and momentum going at a helmet, and then you hit something. It makes it hurt a little more and it freaks everybody out because it’s your throwing shoulder and stuff, but honestly, it feels great.”
Coach Rex Ryan acknowledged that Sanchez is “fine” and the notation on the injury report was purely a procedural thing.
“All we do there is we recognize that he’s getting treatment,” Ryan said. “He gets ice and all that stuff.”
But, that’s two games and two weeks of health concerns. Last week, Sanchez had concussion tests after taking a pounding from Dallas in the opener. This week, there were some initial fears about his arm – particularly when he first came out of the game holding it and appearing to be in some discomfort.
“I’m just trying to stand in there and get rid of the ball when I can and eliminate a lot of hits, especially along the sidelines trying to string out plays,” he said. “Some of the time, you just have to say `uncle’ and avoid a hit. There’s a handful of situations already, in two games, some hits that I don’t need to take. I’m taking them because I’m just stringing out the play. I’m not worried about it, but we’ll clean things up and I have to get rid of the ball.”
Some have pointed to the offensive line, which has a new right tackle in Wayne Hunter and hasn’t gotten off to a great start, as evidenced by the Jets’ sluggish running game through two weeks. All-Pro center Nick Mangold might also miss the first game of his career because of a high ankle sprain, raising more potential concerns about keeping Sanchez upright.
“Obviously, you try your best to protect your quarterback, especially a franchise-type quarterback,” Ryan said. “At the same time, the nature of the game says you’re going to get hit.”
Despite the bumps and bruises, Sanchez has helped lead the Jets to a 2-0 start and faces three straight road games, starting in Oakland. He knows he still has plenty to do to improve an offense that ranks 21st overall in the league. Part of that involves developing his on-field relationship with veteran receivers Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason.
“Whatever the game dictates, that’s how I feel,” Sanchez said. “If it’s 50 passing yards or 500 passing yards, it doesn’t matter to me. I’m sure the wideouts want their touches. That’s fine. They should. They’re competitive. If we rush for a million yards or throw for them, it doesn’t matter as long as we get the win and take care of the football.”
Sanchez has established an early season connection with tight end Dustin Keller, who has 11 catches for 162 yards and two scores, and wide receiver Santonio Holmes, who has caught nine passes for 112 yards and a touchdown. But Burress had no catches after having four, including a touchdown, in the opener.
Part of that, though, has been due to Burress seeing double teams from the Cowboys and Jaguars and freeing up other receivers. Both Burress and Ryan estimated the wide receiver saw double coverage on all but two plays when he was on the field against Jacksonville, a surprising sign of respect considering he is still getting back into the game after serving 20 months in prison on a gun charge.
“It was something that we didn’t expect and I didn’t expect,” Burress said.
While Ryan tried in vain to keep Burress from getting shut out, he also took blame for Sanchez getting banged up because of the play. Burress hasn’t complained at all, and Sanchez appreciates his attitude.
“He knows we’re (in) Week 2 of a marathon,” Sanchez said. “He’s in it for the long haul. He has a really good feel for this and the longevity of the season, so he’s not fazed about it at all.”
Meanwhile, Burress and Sanchez will continue to work on their rapport while the receiver also adjusts to a slightly smaller role than the one he’s used to.
“I’ve always been a guy that’s been on the field all the time,” Burress said. “I just take it as I’m just not in a certain package or whatever it may be, or maybe I don’t for the scheme of whatever they are trying to do at that particular point. I just try to perfect whatever that they have for me when I’m in the game.”
This week could provide the perfect opportunity for Burress to shine with Oakland playing a lot of man-to-man coverage.
“If you’re a wide receiver, these are the kinds of games that you love to play in: up close and personal, man to man,” he said. “See who’s the better guy. I’ve played in these games before. They’re fun, they’re competitive.”
Notes: CB Antonio Cromartie was selected the AFC’s defensive player of the week after getting two interceptions in the win over Jacksonville. … WR Scotty McKnight, the team’s seventh-round draft pick, was signed to the practice squad after being among the final cuts before the season. McKnight, a childhood buddy of Sanchez, said he spent the last few weeks home in Southern California staying in shape.
Will the Jets’ offensive line give Sanchez enough protection against the Raiders? Sound off below…
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