In between water balloon toss and big dinners with his wide receivers during workouts at his old high school in Southern California, Mark Sanchez sounded more than confident that he will win the New York Jets quarterback competition against rookie Geno Smith. So sure in fact, Sanchez said he'll "absolutely" win the job.
"When it comes down to a competition, I just put my money on myself," Sanchez told The New York Daily News after Friday's workout. "And bet on myself and go play and go win the job. So if that’s what it’s going to be like it’s been clear that’s what it is, alright let’s go."
Sanchez will be fighting for his quarterback life when he heads to camp with the rookies July 22 in Florham Park before heading to Cortland. But said he holds no grudge against Smith for skipping his annual Jets West passing camp in his hometown.
“I don’t hold it against any of the guys that can’t make it,” Sanchez said Friday after workouts on his old field of glory.
“I probably should have said that right away. There are no hard feelings about anything like that. Greg (McElroy’s) not here. (Matt) Simms isn’t here. Guys are on vacation. Some guys are going and getting married. They’re doing stuff. There’s plenty of other things that they could be doing.”
Sanchez invited all of the offensive skill position players, including Smith, to participate — as he has done for the past few summers.
Smith was strangely vague and non-committal about joining Sanchez the rest of the players.
"If they can make the sacrifice and be here, awesome," Sanchez said. "If they can’t, (it’s) totally fine. And I would never hold a grudge against anybody who’s not here. But we’ve (Tim) Tebow here. We’ve had (Mark) Brunell here. We’ve had (Kevin) O’connell. So it’s not like I don’t invite those guys. They’re more than welcome to come and we’ll invite them every year."
Smith opted to work out in Florida rather than make the trip to California and take part in weight lifting, playbook review and on-field sessions with 12 other teammates that included running back Chris Ivory, tight ends Kellen Winslow Jr, Jeff Cumberland and Konrad Reuland and receivers Jeremy Kerley, Stephen Hill, Jordan White, Clyde Gates, Vidal Hazelton, Thomas Mayo and Ryan Spadola.
Two other quarterbacks — McElroy and Simms — also skipped the voluntary workouts.
"It just doesn’t look like he’s going to come," Sanchez said about whether Smith made it clear to him that he wouldn’t attend. "I don’t want to make it bigger than it is. It’s really not a big deal. If he’s not going to make it, he’s not going to make it."
Smith’s absence won’t necessarily put him behind in the competition, but it couldn't hurt. It’s clear that the players in attendance believe there’s a tangible benefit to spending the time to build a relationship with his new teammates in a low-key atmosphere.
"He just couldn’t make it," Hill said. "That’s what I’ve heard. I didn’t actually get a chance to speak with him. It would have been good for him to be here, but I know he’s working back in Florida. He’s doing what he has to do. He’ll be ready for camp."
"It would have been great to have Geno and all of the quarterbacks out here," Reuland said. "The more , the better. However, I don’t think it’s a make it or break it type of thing. It’s still going to be camp as usual. No one’s going to win a spot based on what they do out here."
Will the competition with Smith be closer than expected?
"We'll see," Sanchez said. "I hope not."