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Mark Sanchez unlikely to play in New York Jets' opener

The New York Jets might have to plan for the start of the regular season without Mark Sanchez.

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Adam Schein predicts each conference's rep in New Jersey -- and picks a winner. (Popular opinion need not apply.) **More ...**'s Ian Rapoport reported Thursday on NFL Network's "NFL Total Access" that the injured quarterback is viewed as unlikely to be ready for Week 1, according to several sources involved in the situation.

Sanchez is dealing with a deep right shoulder bruise and has yet to throw since suffering the injury in Saturday's preseason game against the New York Giants. The Jets still view Sanchez's injury as day to day, but the organization is concerned he could be out of action beyond Week 1.

According to Rapoport, there is a growing understanding that rookie quarterback Geno Smith will start Sept. 8 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Smith was held out of the Jets' preseason finale against the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday night, though he was moving well while going through pregame warmups with  quarterbacks coach David Lee.

Given the controversy that came with Rex Ryan's decision to play Sanchez in the fourth quarter against the Giants, the quarterback's "day to day" designation feels like the Jets' way of playing down the seriousness of an injury that easily was avoidable.

Either way, the door now is wide open for Smith. The rookie is a safe bet to hold onto the starting job if he can lead the team without calamity against the Bucs. We'll see about that.

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