Rex Ryan didn’t surprise anyone by naming Mark Sanchez to start Saturday’s second preseason game.
But the Jets coach said in a conference call with reporters that rookie Geno Smith’s ankle sprain was a factor, adding “and Mark has practiced well.”
Ryan was not prepared to say whether Smith would be able to play because of the ankle that hasn’t kept him from practicing, but might have contributed to a “brutal” practice yesterday. Ryan said Smith was on an exercise bike today while other players were going through a conditioning workout.
As to whether Smith should have been practicing at all, Ryan said trainers signed off on the work, and they opted to let Smith work because they’re installing the offense.
Ryan also pointed out that the “competition is not complete,” giving himself an out if Sanchez continues to struggle.
It seems apparent that Ryan would prefer sticking with Sanchez, as long as Sanchez gives him that option. And protecting Smith now, while he’s obviously not 100 percent physically, gives them the opportunity to make a switch later if they need to, without losing face.