Jets Name Sanchez Starter for Friday Night; Smith Could See First-Team Reps

Matt BarbatoCorrespondent IAugust 6, 2013

ORCHARD PARK, NY - DECEMBER 30: Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York Jets audibles during an NFL game against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on December 30, 2012 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

After pleading with fans to quit booing Mark Sanchez at training camp, Rex Ryan has named Sanchez his starter for Friday night's preseason opener against the Detroit Lions, according to a tweet from ESPN's Rich Cimini.

"Well, it's been (an) even competition. Certainly he's the incumbent," Ryan explained to reporters on Tuesday. "We'll see how it goes from there. It seemed the natural thing to do."

Sanchez has been erratic so far in training camp, and fans berated him with boos during last Saturday's scrimmage in Cortland, N.Y. Ryan said that Monday's practice was sloppy, but that Sanchez had looked "sharp," which may have earned him the starting duties.

Here's the wrinkle though: Ryan announced that he might keep his starters in a bit longer than usual, in order to give both Sanchez and Geno Smith an opportunity to get plenty of reps with the first team.

As long as nobody gets injured, this could be a very smart approach by the Jets, who are far from naming a permanent starter. Sanchez and Smith might alternate drives, or maybe Sanchez will play one half of the first quarter and Smith the other.

No matter how Ryan divides the time between his quarterbacks, he has done a good job of naming a starter without tipping too much on who he believes is the better player. Both guys will get an opportunity to play with the best offensive players, so there shouldn't be any excuse because of different personnel.

Other training camp notes:

  • Running back Joe McKnight was arrested on July 30 for two outstanding traffic tickets. He was pulled over last Tuesday for changing lanes without signaling.
  • More McKnight news: He has gone through NFL protocol for a head injury, but the Jets are not calling it a concussion.
  • Smith threw his first interception of training camp on his 79th attempt.
  • Wide receiver Vidal Hazelton suffered a leg injury and was carted off the field after getting tangled up with Dee Milliner in 1-on-1 drills.