After Vikings quarterback Brett Favre's miraculous healing last week, when he went from "out" to "questionable" to starting in less time than it takes to send an inappropriate text message, the Bears aren't putting much stock in Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez's shoulder injury.
Sanchez was limited in Thursday afternoon's practice with a slight cartilage tear in his right shoulder, and Jets coach Rex Ryan said 40-year-old backup Mark Brunell could start Sunday. But the Bears aren't buying it.
"Not at all," cornerback Tim Jennings said. "After what Favre pulled last week, I don't even believe in anything like a bum shoulder anymore. They've got drugs for those to kind of not make you feel anything, and he still [could] throw 50-60 yards like Brett Favre did last week. That shoulder issue with Sanchez isn't going to fool anybody around here."
It's debatable how much Favre helped the Vikings last week before defensive end Corey Wootton moved him another step closer to retirement with a body-slam sack that resulted in a concussion.
The Jets consider Sanchez their future at quarterback, but he's fighting his way through a slump and the shoulder injury can't help. Ryan recently admitted he considered the possibility of benching Sanchez.
In his past four games, including two losses, the 24-year-old Sanchez has completed just 69 of 134 passes (51.5 percent) for an average of only 165 yards per game, with just one touchdown to go with five interceptions and 10 sacks. His passer rating of 74.6 is the lowest among AFC quarterbacks with enough attempts to qualify. He's thrown 16 touchdown passes and been picked off 12 times and sacked 27 times, which is still 17 less than the Bears' Jay Cutler.
"As a quarterback, he doesn't necessarily have to be the major game changer. He just has to manage games," said Bears linebacker Lance Briggs, who notched his second sack of the season Monday night. "They have a great defense, and they have a great running game. When you have those elements, you don't have to do a whole lot as a quarterback."
The Jets clearly prefer to travel on the ground, where they're No. 6 in the NFL, while just 20th in passing yards and 28th in average gain per pass play.
"He tries to take care of the football as much as he can," Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher said of Sanchez. "They're a running football team. They try to be physical and pound the ball and get in some good third-and-short situations. They roll him out, and he's an athletic guy and has a good arm. We've got to try to put pressure on him as we've done with everybody."
Briggs was tentatively asked if, given Sanchez's situation, the Bears might... uh... try to... you know ...
"Tackle his shoulder?" Briggs blurted. "No, we don't do stuff like that. I don't do stuff like that personally. Which shoulder is it?"
The room laughed.
"I really don't think anyone was trying to hurt Brett Favre when he got hurt," he continued. "Things just happen."
Sanchez insists that he will play Sunday, and he's the quarterback who gives the Jets the best chance to win.
"I sense a really competitive spirit," Bears defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said. "When it has to happen, he'll find a way to stay alive, make a play, make a throw, and he seems to have a real command of the offense and real good leadership."
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