NEW YORK -- Mark Sanchez is still focused on coming back this season for the New York Jets.
Coach Rex Ryan thinks it could happen.
Sanchez, hurt in the team's third preseason game, is rehabilitating his injured right shoulder rather than immediately having season-ending surgery. The exact nature of the injury has not been revealed, although some published reports say it is a torn labrum.
"If we didn't think it'd be realistic that Mark would get on the field, then he would be put on IR," Ryan said Friday. "And that's not the case."
Sanchez visited Dr. James Andrews this week to take another look at his shoulder, a decision that was agreed upon mutually by the team doctors and the quarterback. In an interview with NFL Network before the Jets' 13-10 loss to the Patriots Thursday, Sanchez said he was not planning on having surgery anytime soon, but instead wanted to continue to rehabilitate with his sights set on playing again this year.
Before the game at Gillette Stadium, Sanchez threw passes left-handed while warming up with the rest of the team.
"He's doing a great job in rehab," Ryan said, "and our doctors and our trainers are pleased."
Sanchez appeared to have an edge in the tightly contested quarterback competition after rookie Geno Smith struggled with three interceptions in the preseason game against the Giants. But, Ryan decided to play Sanchez in the fourth quarter of that game, a call for which the coach has taken a lot of criticism since it was in garbage time when Sanchez took a crunching hit from Marvin Austin.
In the interview with NFL Network, Sanchez said he was disappointed by the injury because he felt he undoubtedly beat out Smith for the starting job. Ryan, however, has never declared a winner in the competition.
"As a competitor, I guess that's what you expect," Ryan said. "You want your players to believe that. If you don't believe in yourself, nobody else will. I certainly would expect that from any competitor, to think that they're winning the job.
"His comments about that he clearly thinks he won the competition or whatever, that's his opinion."
NOTES: Ryan had no update on DL Muhammad Wilkerson, who injured his right ankle late in the game. The Jets are hoping it's not a high ankle sprain. Wilkerson was seen leaving the locker room with heavy ice packs on his ankle. ... After benching CB Dee Milliner, the team's top draft pick, Ryan would not commit to starting him against Buffalo next Sunday. "I don't know," Ryan said. "We'll see." Milliner was replaced by Kyle Wilson and Darrin Walls against the Patriots. "At that time, I just thought it was best that, hey, you know what, sit him down, let him watch it and we'll go with more experience out there," Ryan said. ... Ryan hopes to have WR Jeremy Kerley back against the Bills after he missed the game Thursday night with a concussion.