We learned Thursday that New York Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith won't attend Mark Sanchez's annual Jets West practice sessions in Mission Viejo, Calif. On Friday, Sanchez clarified that Smith indeed was invited.
"We invited everybody, we emailed everybody, we do it every year," Sanchez told NFL Network's Michelle Beisner in a one-on-one interview that aired Friday night on "NFL Total Access." "I sent out an email to everybody, some guys got back quicker than the others, but everybody was invited. It's not a big deal that he is not here."
Smith reportedly is working out in Florida instead.
Sanchez told Beisner he is "absolutely" the starting quarterback of the Jets and will continue to be the starter. He clearly has an edge in familiarity with his teammates. Stephen Hill, Jeremy Kerley, Chris Ivory, Jeff Cumberland and Kellen Winslow Jr. are some of the Jets players who are out in California with Sanchez.
"We've had other quarterbacks; this is the first year we haven't had other quarterbacks," Sanchez said. "Greg McElroy's been here before, (Matt) Simms was here last year, Tim Tebow, who you might have heard of, has been here, Mark Brunell has been here, Kevin O'Connell has been here.
2013 Jets West campTake a look as Mark Sanchez and his teammates work out on the west coast.
"If Geno comes or doesn't come, it is not a big deal. I don't hold it against anybody who's not here. Some guys are getting married, some guys are going on vacation, some guys are doing stuff, so it's totally optional. And it's a big sacrifice -- you got to leave your family, you got to leave what you're doing, wherever you're from. So I totally understand, it's not a big deal."
We don't think it's a huge deal that Smith chose to work out on his own -- it's natural. But let's also not pretend this is a situation like Matt Hasselbeck and Jake Locker with the Tennessee Titans a few years back. Smith and Sanchez are teammates and combatants. Sanchez's career as an NFL starter is on the line. They are treating it like a competition, as they should.
"There's no doubt in my mind, I'm the player for this team -- I'm the right player," Sanchez said.
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