As expected, Mark Sanchez was among the inactives when the New York Jets announced them ahead of their season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Exactly how long he'll be out with a lingering shoulder injury remains unclear.
NYJ inactives for TB: QB Mark Sanchez, LB Dan Lansanah, G Will Campbell, T Ben Ijalana, T Oday Aboushi, LB Quinton Coples, LB Scott Solomon— New York Jets (@nyjets) September 8, 2013
Sanchez's injury is to his throwing shoulder, obviously requiring extra care for a quarterback. The biggest question that must be answered before any further steps are taken is the extent of the injury, which could finally be coming to light.
Chris Mortensen of ESPN reported shortly before kickoff that the doctors believe he is dealing with a partially torn labrum. He's going to visit Dr. James Andrews before anything is confirmed, however.
You saw Mark Sanchez throwing lefty. That's because docs believe he has partially torn labrum. 2nd opinion this week from Dr Andrews.— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) September 8, 2013
While that sounds serious, Mortensen adds it wouldn't necessarily mark the end of Sanchez's season.
On Sanchez, a partially torn labrum, if that's how Dr. Andrews sees it, doesn't mean season ender. QBs rehab thru it & can play when ready— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) September 8, 2013
The new prognosis, which has yet to be confirmed, has transformed markedly since the Jets were originally calling Sanchez day-to-day (via the New York Daily News). He's now missed one week of regular-season action and there's still no definitive timetable for his return.
Ryan and Sanchez have been coy about the quarterback’s timetable for a return. He’s officially "day-to-day" until a clearer diagnosis can be made after the bruising subsides.
Although the Jets maintained that stance, Ian Rapoport reported there were already fears late last month that the injury was more problematic than they were letting on.
Though it's unlikely Mark Sanchez will be ready Week 1, Jets still say it's day-to-day. Internally, though, a fear he could be out longer.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 29, 2013
Ultimately, Sanchez's place within the team is just as much of an uncertainty as his injury status. The Jets went with rookie Geno Smith in the opener, and the franchise probably hopes he takes the job and runs with it while the veteran is sidelined.
Will Sanchez ever start another game for the Jets?
Based on Mortensen's report, a clearer picture of where Sanchez stands should become available after he visits Dr. Andrews. From there, it will be interesting to see how the team decides to handle the quarterback situation, which was a mess at times throughout the preseason.
Sanchez would at least give them an insurance policy even if Smith retains the starting job. But he would need to be at 100 percent, or very close, to even handle that role.
All told, many questions remain as Sanchez sits out Week 1.