A near-hit on Mark Sanchez in Saturday’s preseason game against the Carolina Panthers panicked Coach Rex Ryan to the point where he insisted Sanchez wear a brace on his left knee this season.

Guard Matt Slauson took his man to the ground on the play, but the lineman crawled toward Sanchez and reached for his knee in an attempt to bring him down.

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“I had him put the brace on after I saw that [play]. That was close,” Ryan said.

After overhearing Sanchez tell center Nick Mangold he was going to wear the brace full-time, Slauson apologized to Sanchez for leaving him vulnerable.

Sanchez has worn a knee brace on several occasions dating back to high school and said his knee feels fine, but wearing the brace is about securing his future in the NFL, calling it a “precautionary deal.”

“It’s really not that bad, it’s more of a mental thing,” he said. “You’ve seen the hits that Carson [Palmer] took, that Tom [Brady] took. If [the brace] can save me, then why not … It’s the right thing to do. It’s looking out for me, for us.”

Sanchez looked to his grey-haired backup for advice, hoping Brunell would say the brace was unnecessary. But seeing as Brunell’s 14-year career was maintained in part by wearing a knee brace, Sanchez said he was persuaded to strap it on.