Ryan: Mark Sanchez's shoulder sore

Updated: December 21, 2010, 9:56 PM ET
By Rich Cimini | ESPNNewYork.com

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Mark Sanchez went into Pittsburgh with a bruised ego. He came out with a sore shoulder.

The New York Jets' quarterback landed on his throwing shoulder on a first-quarter scramble in Sunday's 22-17 victory over the Steelers, and he went for an MRI exam Monday. The results were negative, according to head coach Rex Ryan, who downplayed the injury and said Sanchez will start Sunday at the Chicago Bears.

"That's precautionary," Ryan said of the MRI. "Anytime it's your quarterback, you're going to make sure he's OK ... He'll be ready to play on Sunday."

The team didn't specify the exact nature of the injury, saying only that it's "sore." It happened on the Jets' second possession, when Sanchez escaped the pocket on third-and-18 and was sacked at the line of scrimmage by James Farrior.

Sanchez landed hard on his right shoulder, receiving a shot in the back from James Harrison just as he hit the ground. It didn't seem to cause any discomfort. In fact, Sanchez did a two-handed push-up as he got off the ground and to his feet. He played the entire game.

Ryan, who claimed he didn't know about the shoulder issue until after the game, said Sanchez's arm landed in an "awkward position." It was the only time he was sacked, yet he was "beat up pretty good," according to Ryan.

Sanchez might be limited in practice this week as the Jets (10-4), who snapped a two-game losing streak, try to clinch a playoff berth for the second straight season under Ryan.

They can ill afford an injury to Sanchez, who emerged from a three-game slump with a turnover-free performance. He completed 19 of 29 passes for 170 yards and, for the first time in nine games, he didn't throw an interception. He also scored on a 7-yard run in the third quarter on a naked bootleg.

After the game, Sanchez was noticeably subdued, but never mentioned the injury. He wasn't available to reporters on Monday. The Jets' No. 2 quarterback is Mark Brunell, 40, who has attempted only 31 passes over the last four years. He's 1-for-1 this season.

The dramatic victory put the finishing touch on an emotional week for Sanchez, who faced heavy criticism and was called out last week by Ryan. After a ragged performance in a loss to the Miami Dolphins, the coach admitted he thought about pulling his quarterback in the third quarter.

If that didn't get the message across, Ryan made Sanchez sit out a couple of practice reps last week, he revealed Monday. Ordinarily, Sanchez takes all the first-team reps. That could be why he was terse last week with reporters.

"Really, [I did it] just to tick him off more than anything else," said Ryan, joking that he and Sanchez aren't talking.

But, seriously, Ryan admitted he was trying to let his young quarterback know that no one has a free pass.

"You send a message that, 'You know what? You're my guy, everybody knows you're my guy, but if it'll make him accountable, I'll make everybody accountable," Ryan said. "If, for whatever reason, you're not getting the job done, nobody's above it."

Sanchez struggled for three games, throwing five interceptions and completing less than 50 percent of his passes. The offense went 11 quarters without a touchdown until his naked bootleg, which made it 17-17 in the third quarter.

Most of the criticism during the two-game losing streak fell on Sanchez and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. Actually, it could've been worse, but the actions of suspended strength and conditioning coach Sal Alosi deflected some of the attention away from Sanchez, who received pep talks from veteran teammates.

"A lot of times, with a young quarterback, if he doesn't play well, he feels like he let all of us down," fullback Tony Richardson said. "The biggest thing I tell him is, we support you, we're behind you 100 percent. That was my message to him this week: Trust us, we trust you and we're going to get this done."

Rich Cimini covers the Jets for ESPNNewYork.com. Follow him on Twitter.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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