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December 21. 2012 9:58PM

NY Jets QB Mark Sanchez says he's not focused on trade rumors

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - In the span of five days, Mark Sanchez has gone from starter to benchwarmer to, possibly, offseason trade material. But the beleaguered quarterback said he isn't focused on the trade rumors that continue to swirl.

"I haven't really thought about it," he said Friday of the Jets' reported interest in exploring "all options" regarding his 2013 status. "I'm focused on this game and the game next week and then we'll assess all that stuff at a later date."

For the time being, he said his sole responsibility is helping third-stringer Greg McElroy prepare for his first NFL start. Following Sanchez's five-turnover performance in last Monday night's loss to the Titans, Rex Ryan tabbed McElroy as his Sunday starter - a move that showed a lack of trust in both Sanchez and their much-hyped No. 2, Tim Tebow. On Wednesday, a source confirmed the Jets were open to either trading him, releasing him or keeping him.

Sanchez, who was drafted fifth overall in 2009, shied away from discussing his uncertain status for next season. "Honestly, I'm a Jet, that's all I've known," he said. "So I'm just getting ready and helping Greg as much as I can."

Though Ryan still has yet to name a backup quarterback for Sunday's final home game, Sanchez is the logical choice considering Tebow hasn't been used in any considerable way this season. The coach again floated the possibility of dressing all three quarterbacks, but it's a tactic he has yet to use.

Sanchez's future with the franchise is unclear, but the $8.25 million in guaranteed money he's owed may keep him around in 2013. Regardless, Sanchez is focusing on helping McElroy succeed.

"As disappointing as it is, I'm excited for him - if that makes sense," Sanchez said. "You never want to relinquish your job, but at the same time, you root for our team, you root for somebody like Greg."

And McElroy appreciates the help. The former Alabama star, who relieved Sanchez in a 7-6 win over Arizona on Dec. 2, said there's no awkwardness between the three quarterbacks.

"Those guys are great competitors and of course they want to be out there on the field, but they also want to help me," McElroy said. "Because if the roles were reversed, I would be doing everything I possibly could to help them. And I think they understand that."

Despite the difficult situation he now finds himself in, Sanchez said: "At the same time you have to be a pro, do the right thing: help Greg and prepare him like I always do."


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