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Sanchez Ready To Start Jets Career

New QB gets first day jitters, outplays veteran Clemens


New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez directs the second team offense during the Jets' NFL football training camp in Cortland, N.Y., Saturday, Aug. 1, 2009. (AP Photo/Kevin Rivoli)

New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez directs the second team offense during the Jets' NFL football training camp in Cortland, N.Y., Saturday, Aug. 1, 2009. (AP Photo/Kevin Rivoli)


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New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez directs the second team offense during the Jets’ NFL football training camp in Cortland, N.Y., Saturday, Aug. 1, 2009. (AP Photo/Kevin Rivoli)

Mark Sanchez felt jittery, barely able to take more than a single bite of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

The New York Jets rookie quarterback was preparing for the team’s full-contact scrimmage Thursday night and couldn’t wait to get on the field.

“It was like game day,” Sanchez said. “It was game mode. I put in the iPod and just laid down for a little bit, relaxed my mind and came out here and did a little work.”

Sanchez outplayed Kellen Clemens in the team’s green-white scrimmage in front of 6,100 at SUNY Cortland, perhaps giving himself the slight edge in the team’s closely contested quarterback competition.

“I wanted to see poise,” coach Rex Ryan said. “I also wanted to see the accuracy that he showed. He really did show up.”

Sanchez, the fifth overall draft pick from Southern California, was 9 of 15 — including four dropped passes — for 70 yards while running the first- and second-team offenses against the first two defensive units.

“I felt great about throwing the football,” said Sanchez, who looked good running the no-huddle offense at times. “It was spinning well and coming out of my hand great. Good protection; they were awesome.”

Sanchez’s numbers would’ve been even more impressive if not for the drops, three of which came on third-down plays. Two of the drops were by undrafted free agent Britt Davis.

“That’s where you’ve got to focus more than anything,” Ryan said. “Just catch the football first and we’ll worry about running after it second. Just junior high stuff. That was disappointing.”

Clemens, a fourth-year veteran who entered the competition No. 1 on the depth chart, was 5 of 7 for 26 yards. The offense went three-and-out on three drives with Clemens under center.

“The focus for me is more on myself than on what he’s doing,” Clemens said. “Obviously, I support him, but I’m not always counting and keeping score in that respect.”

While Sanchez may have scored a victory in the scrimmage, Ryan and the Jets will get a better feel for who’s on top when they play their preseason opener at home against St. Louis next Friday. Ryan would like to determine the starter by the team’s third preseason game against the Giants.

“They look pretty good,” owner Woody Johnson said of Sanchez and Clemens. “I mean, there were no interceptions, there were no fumbles. I thought the defense at this time of the year is ahead of the offense, but I was impressed.”

While neither quarterback had a turnover, neither had a touchdown, either. With Erik Ainge running the third-team offense, wide receiver Paul Raymond took a reverse from fullback Brock Christopher and scored from 15 yards out for the scrimmage’s only touchdown.

“The first scrimmage went pretty close to how I thought they’d be, except now we’re scored on,” Ryan quipped. “Maybe there will be more pressure on me.”

Ryan ran the practice different from previous green-white scrimmages, where the team was split into two sides. Instead, Ryan had the first- and second-team offenses mix and match against the first- and second-team defenses, and so on.

“Our offense isn’t easy to prepare for,” Ryan said. “You name it, we do it offensively. The defense has been up to the challenge.”

NOTES: The Jets have Friday off from practice, and Ryan said some members of the team planned a trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. … Ryan said RB Jehuu Caulcrick, DE Mike DeVito and CB Dwight Lowery had minor injuries, but will be fine. … Rookie RB Shonn Greene, the team’s third-round pick, had six carries for 25 yards. … Lowery, DE Jamaal Westerman and S James Ihedigbo were credited with sacks. … Ryan said LBs David Harris and Kenwin Cummings, and CB Lito Sheppard stood out on defense.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

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