FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Mark Sanchez experienced a lot of firsts in his rookie season, and the Jets’ quarterback might be looking at another one relatively soon.
As in his first surgery.
Sanchez might opt for an elective procedure to stabilize the patella ligament in his left knee — originally injured when he dislocated his kneecap in college — after visiting with Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala., on Wednesday. The renowned orthopedic specialist also checked Sanchez’s right knee, which he injured against the Bills in Toronto on Dec. 3.
Sanchez doesn’t necessarily need to have the surgery, but it would help strengthen the knee and aid in preventing any potential further damage. His right knee, which he hurt diving headfirst on a scramble, doesn’t require surgery and he’s expected to rehabilitate it.
Sanchez is weighing his options and should make a decision relatively soon on whether to have the surgery, which probably would require at least two months of recovery time.
“He will be ready well before training camp,” general manager Mike Tannenbaum said Thursday. “No decision has been made if he’ll have a procedure. I know it’s been reported that he had that second opinion. We will look at that collectively, but he will be ready well before camp. Nothing has been decided as of right now.”
Sanchez dislocated his left kneecap in August of his junior season at USC and played the entire season with a knee brace. He also wore it in his rookie season and played with braces on his knees against the Falcons Dec. 20, his first game back after Rex Ryan left him home to rehab while the Jets traveled to Tampa for their 26-3 win over the Bucs.
Neither knee appeared to bother Sanchez much during the Jets’ stretch run. He posted a 92.7 rating during the postseason, completing 41 of 68 passes for 539 yards. He threw four touchdowns and had two interceptions, and became only the fourth rookie quarterback since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970 to lead his team to a conference championship game.
He had perhaps his best game of the season against the Colts in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game, when he completed 17 of 30 passes for 257 yards, two touchdowns and a late interception. On Monday, he talked about how he had a lot of things he wanted to improve on and planned on finding ways to get better during the offseason.
However, with a recovery timetable that might extend beyond eight weeks, there’s a good chance Sanchez won’t be able to participate in the beginning of the offseason conditioning program in late March. He could also miss the first couple of Organized Team Activities (OTAs) near the beginning of May.
“I love the offseason program,” Tannenbaum said. “You don’t want to have anybody miss any time. But we’ll balance it out with a medical procedure that may give him more stability in there and give him a chance to play without any worry about that whatsoever.
“Those are judgment calls that we have to make and really look at what’s going to give him the best chance to be successful over the whole season.”