Mark Sanchez was hurt late in the fourth quarter of a preseason game. (Julio Cortez / AP)

For Mark Sanchez, the short-term prospects are not good. Rookie Geno Smith will start the New York Jets’ season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. That much is clear.

“He’s not ready now,” his coach, Rex Ryan, said of Sanchez this morning, “and we’ll see what the future holds as we move forward.”

Sanchez is recovering from a shoulder injury he suffered late in a preseason game and, with the Jets’ Week 2 game coming on a Thursday, he isn’t likely to be ready then, either. One former Jets teammate holds the grim belief that he’ll never start another NFL game.

“I don’t think Mark will be a starter again in the NFL,” LaDainian Tomlinson said Tuesday on SiriusXM’s Mad Dog Sports Radio.  “I think there’s certainly potential for him to be a backup and then get a starting job for half the year or what have you that way. But I think his days as a full-time starter are pretty much over.”

Sanchez hasn’t thrown since hurting his right shoulder Aug. 24 and, if Smith were to falter after winning the job by default, Sanchez could be ready for Week 3 against Buffalo. Or the Jets could try Matt Simms or Brady Quinn, whom they signed Monday.

“I’m trying, I’m trying,” Sanchez said Monday. “We’ll make a good push this week and see where I’m at. You just want to take this thing slow, take it the right way, make the right progression without reinjuring yourself.”

Tomlinson noted that a quarterback only has so many chances. “You’ve got to realize in football, for a quarterback, you’re going to get three to five years in an organization to prove that you’re the franchise guy. I mean that’s just what it is and if you don’t do it in that time frame, then they’re going to move on to somebody else.”

Unless that somebody else can’t do it and they have to move back. That may be Sanchez’s best chance now.

Follow @CindyBoren on Twitter and on Facebook.