Mark Sanchez's season might be over before it begins, but he's not going down without a fight.
The New York Jets quarterback has a right shoulder labral tear. Sanchez plans to attempt to avoid season-ending surgery with a rigid rehabilitation program, but there is no guarantee he'll be back on the field in 2013.
"I'm rehabbing my ass off to try and make it back, and that's where my head's at," Sanchez told NFL Network on Thursday. "There is no plan for surgery at this time."
Sanchez said that he is making "surprising" progress.
He lamented being injured because he believes his injury is the only reason Geno Smith is starting for the Jets.
"What I'm really disappointed about is that I got hurt because I won the competition," Sanchez said.
"There's no doubt. It was a done deal," Sanchez said when asked if he thought he won the starting job.
Sanchez saw Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion Wednesday in Gulf Breeze, Fla., and the noted orthopedist confirmed the shoulder tear, according to multiple reports. The 26-year-old quarterback delayed the operation in an effort to play later in the year, then have the surgery following the season. Postseason post-surgery rehab could impact Sanchez's ability to be ready for the start of the 2014 season.
The injury occurred in the fourth quarter of the Jets' Aug. 24 preseason game against the New York Giants, when Sanchez was playing behind an offensive line made up of reserves.
Smith, a rookie second-round draft pick, started and led the Jets to a season-opening, 18-17 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. Smith completed 24 of 38 passes for 256 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
On Thursday night, it was a different story as Smith threw three interceptions and the Jets lost to the Patriots, 13-10.
The previous four seasons, Sanchez started 62 of the Jets' 64 games, posting a 33-29 regular-season record. He led the Jets to a AFC Championship Game after the 2009 and 2010 seasons.
Sanchez has a career 55.1 completion percentage with 68 touchdown passes, 69 interceptions and a 71.7 passer rating. Last season was his worst since his rookie year, as he was picked off 18 times and threw just 13 TD passes in 2012, compiling a 66.9 passer rating.