FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – As far as Mark Sanchez is concerned, the New York Jets’ starting quarterback job should be his, not Geno Smith’s.

“I won the competition. There was no doubt about that,” Sanchez said, according to the NFL Network’s Rich Eisen, who interviewed Sanchez by phone before Thursday night’s Jets-Patriots game at Gillette Stadium.

Sanchez seemed to be the front-runner in the offseason competition with Smith, a second-round draft pick who got off to a promising start in training camp only to dip toward the end. But the quarterback competition came to a screeching halt when Sanchez injured his throwing shoulder Aug. 20 when the Jets curiously inserted him during the fourth quarter of an exhibition game against the Giants.

ESPN reported late Wednesday night that Sanchez likely will undergo season-ending surgery after he received confirmation from the noted orthopedic surgeon James Andrews that he has a torn labrum in his shoulder.

But two sources told Newsday that night that Sanchez instead plans to continue rehabbing to see if he can recover in time to return this season. A source said Thursday that Sanchez has seen “multiple doctors” who are “all in agreement” that he is ahead of schedule and progressing well.

According to Eisen, Sanchez was “hot” over the ESPN report indicating surgery is imminent. The NFL Network anchor later said in the pregame telecast that Sanchez told him doctors were “pleasantly surprised” by his progress and that rehabbing remains the “best course of action for him right now.”

Sanchez, according to Eisen, maintained that his plan is to get back on the field for the Jets in 2013.

Sanchez returned from seeing Andrews in Florida on Wednesday and was on the field for pregame warmups.

Meanwhile, the Jets have yet to give an update on his condition, other than to say Sanchez is “day-to-day.”

A “conservative” course of treatment entails a period of rest to let the inflammation in the shoulder “cool down,” followed by strengthening and flexibility rehabilitation, said Dr. Bradford Parsons, an orthopedic surgeon and shoulder specialist at Mount Sinai in New York City.

Though Parsons isn’t familiar with Sanchez’s particular case, he said some high-profile athletes can return to action in a few weeks if they exhibit no further pain during the rehab process.

“But if (an athlete) continues to have pain and the rehabilitation is not helpful in resolving that, that may be reason to consider doing something else,” said Parsons, who also is the residency program director at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

GIANTS: New York was awarded linebacker Allen Bradford off waivers and placed linebacker Dan Connor on injured reserve with a neck problem.

FRANK TRIPUCKA, who quarterbacked Denver in its inaugural season and later wanted his No. 18 unretired so Peyton Manning could wear it, died at Woodland Park, N.J., at age 85. He had Alzheimer’s disease.

A former standout at Notre Dame, Tripucka played for the Detroit Lions, Chicago Cardinals and Dallas Texans. He was brought in as a coach before the 1960 season but it became obvious he was Denver’s best option at quarterback.

Tripucka threw for 3,038 yards and 24 touchdowns that season. He also tossed the first touchdown pass in American Football League history.

BRONCOS: Coach John Fox came to linebacker Von Miller’s defense, 24 hours after publicly expressing frustration over Miller’s multiple traffic transgressions.

Fox said the team is helping Miller stay out of trouble any way it can, and pointed out that Miller’s infractions were nothing more serious than traffic citations.

RAIDERS: Kicker Sebastian Janikowski was surprised and angry to read a report quoting Jacksonville kicker Josh Scobee claiming Janikowski annually roots for the Oakland Athletics to miss the playoffs so the dirt can be replaced with sod.

“I root for the A’s, I want them to do well,” Janikowski said. “I’ve been to several A’s games. Whatever (Scobee) said, it just blows my mind. The conversation never happened. If they make the postseason, I’m excited for them.”

BUCCANEERS: Quarterback Josh Freeman recently missed a meeting for a team photo but said it was an isolated incident that hasn’t been a distraction for the team.

Freeman said he overslept and didn’t show up on time for an early-morning photo shoot on Labor Day. Later he was not selected as a team captain, but doesn’t feel the vote was related to the unexcused absence.

SAINTS: New Orleans signed defensive end Jay Richardson, bolstering its defensive line following a left knee injury to end Tyrunn Walker in Week 1.

Coach Sean Payton said the club also waived receiver Andy Tanner to make room for Richardson.

CHIEFS: Running back Jamaal Charles was back at practice after missing the previous day’s workout with a bruised thigh muscle sustained in last week’s viuctory against Jacksonville.

Charles did participate in a walkthrough Wednesday, after which Coach Andy Reid said he expected Charles to be OK for Sunday’s game against Dallas.

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