With each passing day, it seems more and more unlikely that Mark Sanchez will be healthy enough to start Week 1.
The Jets have said nothing more about the fifth-year quarterback other than he's day-to-day with a bruised right shoulder joint. But while a cloud of uncertainty continues to hang over Sanchez, Geno Smith already has begun preparing as if the starting job against the Bucs will be his.
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"Yessir," the rookie quarterback said Thursday night when asked if he's approaching the upcoming week of practice as if he'll be starting against the Bucs. "Business as usual. That's something that I always do, and whether or not I am or am not, I will always approach it the same way.
"So I'm going to continue to study hard. I've watched a ton of film on the Buccaneers so far, so I'm just going to work extremely hard and prepare my mind and body for this upcoming game."
The Jets will face Tampa Bay in the season opener just over a week from now, but Rex Ryan still wasn't ready to name his starter in the wake of their 27-20 win over the Eagles Thursday night at MetLife Stadium.
Sanchez, as expected, was inactive, and Ryan provided no update.
"We'll let you know on Wednesday, obviously, his status, if it changes at all," he said.
Sanchez did not address the media after the game.
Ryan confirmed that Greg McElroy -- who also was inactive -- "tweaked" his knee this week in practice.
Recently signed quarterback Graham Harrell took a knee on the game's final play.
Though Smith was available, the Jets chose to keep him safe on the sideline.
"We wanted to get a good look at Simms. I think he's earned that right," said Ryan, who later added that the Jets will consider carrying four quarterbacks on the roster. " . . . And Matt jumped in and made the most of his opportunity."
Smith hoped to see action, but he told reporters he was informed that he would not play "a day ago," just before practice.
"I understand exactly what's going on here," said Smith, adding that he didn't make a push to get on the field. "Obviously, you've got to prepare for the regular season, and in our current situation with Mark being down, you just can't take any risks."
Though his sprained right ankle still isn't 100 percent, he said it's "getting better day by day . . . Hopefully by the time the games come around, I'll be 100 percent."
Smith said he hasn't been told when the Jets will name their Week 1 starter. When asked if he feels comfortable after only two preseason appearances (22-for-37, 246 yards, three interceptions), the rookie didn't hesitate.
"Well, I felt comfortable when I first played," he said. "I felt comfortable last week. I think that's kind of just my demeanor. Whether or not I've played enough, who's to say? It's very hypothetical.
"I've definitely gained a lot of experience in my time in the games, and whether or not I'm ready, we'll find out on game day. And I think I'll be ready for it."