FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- As far as Mark Sanchez is concerned, the Jets' starting quarterback job should be his -- not Geno Smith's.
"I won the competition. There was no doubt about that,'' Sanchez said, according to NFL Network's Rich Eisen, who interviewed Sanchez by phone before Thursday night's Jets-Patriots game at Gillette Stadium.
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Sanchez seemed to be the front-runner in the offseason competition with Smith, a second-round draft pick who got off to a promising start in training camp, only to dip toward the end. But the quarterback competition came to a screeching halt when Sanchez injured his throwing shoulder Aug. 20 after the Jets curiously inserted him during the fourth quarter of a preseason game against the Giants.
ESPN reported late Wednesday night that Sanchez likely will undergo season-ending surgery after he received confirmation from noted orthopedic surgeon James Andrews that he has a torn labrum in his shoulder.
But two sources told Newsday that night that Sanchez instead plans to continue rehabbing to see if he can recover in time to return this season. A source said Thursday that Sanchez has seen "multiple doctors'' who are "all in agreement'' that he is ahead of schedule and progressing well.
According to Eisen, Sanchez was "hot'' over the ESPN report indicating that surgery is imminent. The NFL Network anchor later said in the pregame telecast that Sanchez told him doctors were "pleasantly surprised'' by his progress and that rehabbing remains the "best course of action for him right now.'' Sanchez, according to Eisen, maintained that his plan is to get back on the field for the Jets in 2013.
The fifth-year quarterback returned from seeing Andrews in Florida on Wednesday and was on the field for pregame warmups.
The Jets have yet to give an update on his condition other than to say Sanchez is "day-to-day.''
A conservative course of treatment entails a period of rest to let the inflammation in the shoulder "cool down,'' followed by strengthening and flexibility rehabilitation, said Dr. Bradford Parsons, an orthopedic surgeon and shoulder specialist at Mount Sinai in New York City.
Though Parsons isn't familiar with Sanchez's particular case, he said some high-profile athletes can return to action in a few weeks if they exhibit no further pain during the rehab process. "But if [an athlete] continues to have pain and the rehabilitation is not helpful in resolving that, that may be reason to consider doing something else,'' said Parsons, who also is the Residency Program Director at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
"It's really going to depend on how quickly his shoulder inflammation cools down and how his symptoms improve with time. If a labral tear continues to hurt every time he maneuvers the arm, then that may not improve with rehab.''