By Chris Burke
September 12, 2013

Mark Sanchez is contemplating season-ending shoulder surgery. Mark Sanchez is contemplating season-ending shoulder surgery. (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

Geno Smith will make his second career NFL start Thursday night in New England, and there's no telling when Mark Sanchez will be able to return from the shoulder injury he suffered in the preseason.

And it's that injury -- and that injury alone -- that Sanchez believes is the reason Smith has the Jets' No. 1 QB job right now.

Eisen added that Sanchez said doctors are "pleasantly surprised" by how his throwing shoulder is healing. Whether that's true or not remains to be seen, but it comes shortly after ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported that Sanchez was considering season-ending surgery to repair a labral tear.

The Jets' QB race turned into a clustered mess during the preseason. First, Smith injured his ankle in the team's opening preseason game, which forced him to sit out game No. 2. Then, Sanchez hurt his shoulder in the fourth quarter of New York's third exhibition contest.

Coach Rex Ryan maintained all along that the competition would remain open for as long as possible leading up to Week 1. However, once Sanchez was ruled out for that game, Smith took the job without a fight.

The rookie out of West Virginia then helped his team pick up a win last Sunday against Tampa Bay -- Smith's late scramble, coupled with a personal foul on the Bucs, put the Jets in position for the game-winning field goal.

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Sanchez's words to Eisen may be nothing more than trying to change the narrative a bit. Though Sanchez's current contract runs through 2016, his days in New York have been numbered for some time, and any positive development from Smith might drive the nail into the coffin. So Sanchez could enter the next NFL offseason looking for work.

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