The New York Jets have placed quarterback Mark Sanchez on Injured Reserve, Designated for Return.
The designation means that Sanchez will be eligible to return to practice after six weeks and will be eligible to return to the active roster after eight weeks from being placed on the reserve list.
Sanchez suffered a bruised right shoulder joint in the fourth quarter of the Jets' third preseason matchup against the New York Giants on Aug. 24. The fifth-year quarterback had been listed as day-to-day following the injury and hadn't practiced since going down.
In a conference call Saturday afternoon, general manager John Idzik said (per Lange), "Doing this is really in keeping with our primary goal to give Mark every chance to return to practice and play this season."
Sanchez was ruled out of New York's season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, opening the door for rookie passer Geno Smith to make his first career regular-season start.
Smith performed admirably against Tampa Bay, completing 24 of 38 passes for 256 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He also ran the ball six times for 47 yards in the dramatic 18-17 win.
With Sanchez out of the picture, the Jets have three quarterbacks on their roster. Veteran Brady Quinn and Matt Sims are the only two options remaining behind Smith.
Prior to the Jets' 2013 opener, Sanchez had missed only two regular-season starts since the beginning of his rookie season in 2009. The former USC Trojans signal-caller has appeared in 62 regular-season contests and six playoff games for the Jets over the past four years.
He led New York to back-to-back AFC Championship Game appearances in his first two seasons in 2009 and 2010, but the team has gone 14-17 with Sanchez as the starter since the start of the 2011 season.
In 2012, Sanchez completed only 54.3 percent of his passes for 2,883 yards and 13 touchdowns while tossing 18 interceptions and fumbling 14 times. Sanchez would finish the year with a quarterback rating of 25.8 and a passer rating of 66.9.
In response to the poor play under center, the Jets selected West Virginia's Geno Smith with the 39th overall pick in the second round of the 2013 NFL draft.
Sanchez is currently in the second year of a five-year, $58 million deal with the Jets. He isn't scheduled to become a free agent until 2017.
With Sanchez now on injured reserve, Smith won't have to worry about looking over his shoulder each time he makes a mistake. For head coach Rex Ryan, the move means he likely won't have to answer any more questions about who his starting quarterback will be moving forward.
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