Mark Sanchez's long-term future with the Jets remains uncertain at best, but on Saturday the team at least clarified his short-term situation, placing him on the injured reserve/designated to return list, sidelining him until mid-November.
The designation, new to the NFL last year, allows a team once per season to remove a player who is injured from the active roster, with the option of having him return to practice after six weeks and to play in eight weeks.
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That means that if Sanchez's injured right shoulder heals sufficiently, he can practice in the week leading up to the Nov. 3 game against the Saints -- which will be followed by the bye week -- and can play Nov. 17 in Buffalo.
General manager John Idzik said earlier this month that IR was not in the team's plans for Sanchez, but he said Saturday that circumstances had changed since then.
"In the backs of our minds, we considered, do we use this type of designation?" Idzik said. "But obviously in the last two weeks we felt there was a chance for him to come back."
The GM said the consensus among team executives, doctors and Sanchez himself was to "slow down the train a bit and let this thing heal, and that way his prognosis going forward would be much more solid. So that's what we did."
Despite the fact that Sanchez is out of the quarterback mix for two months, Idzik declined to name rookie Geno Smith the starter beyond next Sunday's home game against the Bills.
"I think everyone is getting a taste that we don't look too far into the future," said Idzik, who is in his first year at the helm of the team's football operations. "Geno will be our quarterback for Buffalo. We don't look beyond that."
Idzik took a similar stance when asked if he wants Sanchez to be a part of the team in 2014 and beyond. "We're not looking forward to 2014," he said. "We're looking squarely at 2013, and unequivocally Mark is a very important part of this team."
Sanchez followed Idzik on a conference call with reporters and repeatedly declined opportunities to question how the team has handled him -- including coach Rex Ryan's decision to insert him late in a preseason game against the Giants in which he suffered the injury. "There's no looking back in the rearview mirror," he said. "What's done is done. I'm injured. That's the fact of the matter."
Sanchez said his personal philosophy is that a person does not "heal right if you hold grudges . . . I don't think like that. That negative stuff doesn't help. I think the team feels the same way. It's over. It's done with. I've moved on and we're moving on together and that's the best part."
Sanchez also declined to take issue with Idzik for not committing to him beyond 2013, or to question how the team has treated him in general.
"Listen, we all have the same interest in mind," he said. "However things are reported and said and whether they're taken out of context or not, those things don't bother me."
Asked specifically if he wants to remain a Jet beyond this season -- something that is considered highly unlikely by most people in and around the league -- he said, "Absolutely. I'm a Jet. I've been a Jet since Day One and I don't plan on doing anything else."
Sanchez said he was not sure what else the team could have done for him given the situation, adding everyone has "been on the same page."
"There have been no secrets," he said. "I'm not blindsided by the IR designation. Everything has been out in the open."
Idzik said Sanchez consulted several doctors and that it was agreed his injured shoulder could respond to more rest and rehab. The GM said Sanchez recovered from a similar injury in the past without surgery.
Sanchez would not confirm a report that he has a torn labrum. "I'm not going to get into the details of the injury," he said. "All we can tell you is we're taking things on a day-to-day, week-to-week basis . . . I'm constantly improving and will be back as soon as I can."
During his six-week hiatus, Sanchez is permitted to be around the team, including in meetings during the week and on the sideline during games. Idzik said he will be an invaluable resource, and Sanchez welcomed that role.
"This IR situation gives us an opportunity to have another roster spot, and if that roster spot can help us make plays and win games, that's the most important thing right now," Sanchez said. "In my little world, I'm trying to get back and help this team in any way I can . . . I enjoy doing it and I love being part of this organization."
Said Idzik: "Mark is the ultimate team player. He wants to be with the club. He wants to help theteam and in particular he wants to help Geno, Matt [Simms], Brady [Quinn], everyone in that room.'''