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TRAINING CAMP 2009: Battle Royale at QB

By Matthew Waters
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
August 11th, 2009
The usual daily headline didn’t change on Tuesday in Cortland as the top story continues to be the battle at QB between veteran Kellen Clemens and rookie Mark Sanchez as both looked sharp today.

The results have not been particularly shocking so far for a rookie quarterback, glimpses of great skill nullified by errors of inexperience, but Sanchez remains chafed at his inconsistency. “I think it was Sunday, it had to be the A.M. practice because that was my morning with the ones,” Sanchez recalled with reporters earlier today.

“We were on the turf here and I missed two big touchdowns, just wide open guys. Throws that I have made before. One was an in-cut in the back of the end zone and (Chansi) Stuckey running the seam. (I threw) it out and I just totally missed him. It was one of those things where you make the physical mistakes…”

Sanchez remains locked in a close competition with Clemens, who hasn’t exactly been reliably sound from one day to the next. The early preseason schedule may determine a definitive winner, but the former USC standout calmly assessed the situation.

“More than anything, the defenses we’ll see are not going to be as complex as the regular season,” Sanchez said coolly. “We are not going to show everything we (have). It will be basic plays and it is important that we go through progressions, go through reads, make the right checks on the run plays and be smart with the football and get completions. Whether you score or not, it’s more about managing the team and moving the chains. Those are the main things.”

In fact, Sanchez sounded more excited that his family would see him back in action against legitimate competition.

“It’s going to be great. It was just exciting to see my dad come out to practice. It was the first time I’ve seen him for a while. It was the first time that he has seen a practice since the Rose Bowl practices… He’s going to be there and my whole family will be there… It will be like I am back at home. It’s a big-time game day.” Stuck in the middle with you Expanding on our story yesterday, at the moment, WR Chansi Stuckey seems an important piece of the Jets’ offensive plan for 2009. Ticketed for the slot, he is an exception among the team’s unproven batch of pass catchers battling in camp, a player with a defined role. While meeting with reporters today, Stuckey was questioned whether his aim is to be known as a great slot receiver, or just a great receiver period.

“As a receiver you just want to catch touchdowns and make plays, you know, wherever you are,” Stuckey answered. “Inside, outside, in the backfield, wherever. Guys are going to have to defend. The defense is going to have to know where you are. So if you can do outside, inside and you just move around a lot, which we can do, that’s going to have to make the defense prepare that much more.”

Fellow wideout Jerricho Cotchery may face his toughest challenge as a pro, the primary target among a cast of unproven, and in some cases, untested talents. Carrying this kind of responsibility, even for one season, could define Cotchery’s career going forward. Stuckey, for one, has seen a shift in the clear-cut number one’s disposition.

“I think he’s taken his game to another level,” commented Stuckey on Cotchery. “He’s always carried himself well as a professional, but I think with the tab of the number one and some naysayers out there, I think he’s really taken it upon himself to take his game to a different level.”

CAMP CORTLAND TIDBITS

As always, Head Coach Rex Ryan was forthcoming and gregarious in his daily press conference.

Talkin’ bout Practice

Ryan seemed satisfied with today’s practice session. “Today was a good day. A good, spirited day. Competitive. A couple players came up to me after practice and said, “You know Rex, it’s amazing, but when that horn blows, we want to keep practicing. They’re enjoying it. It’s good competition, and I think they’re having a good time out there.”

Oddly, two WR’s were conspicuously absent from the practice field. Both David Clowney and Wallace Wright were excused for “personal reasons’ according to Ryan. More on this as we investigate.

Injury News

A few starters will be inactive for the initial preseason bout with St. Louis. “I don’t think we’ll have (Darrelle) Revis, (Nick) Mangold, (Damien) Woody. I don’t think those guys will play in (Friday’s) game,” said Ryan. “They’re still going through some things. They’re not serious injuries, but I’d rather make sure those guys are ready to roll and be 100% than go out there with some kind of ailment and do something stupid. I don’t think they’ll play. Tony Richardson has a chance to play, we’ll see. (He) would (probably) be questionable, the other guys would be doubtful…very doubtful.”

First String

Ryan also revealed that Mark Sanchez is expected to take snaps with the first unit on Friday, though the allotment remains undecided. “Sanchez will obviously get work with the ones… When exactly that will be, that’s really not determined, in terms if x amount of plays or drives or whatever. That really hasn’t been decided.” What is definite, however, is that Sanchez will remain on the sidelines for the duration of the second-half. Third stringer Eric Ainge will probably get the most snaps at QB on Friday.

Dead Heat

Ryan was equally complimentary of both Sanchez and Clemens regarding their performance in practice today. “[He] looked like a million dollars, or I guess you can raise that a little bit,” Ryan said of Sanchez, again displaying his gift for deadpan humor. “A bunch of millions out there,” he continued. “Kellen (Clemens) looked great too. I want to see these guys, see how they are, and see how they react. I don’t think it’s going to be too big for either one of those guys.”

Battle of the Punters

A competition garnering less attention is the duel between Reggie Hodges and T.J. Conley for punting duties. While punters are never picked to say they’re going to Disney Land, the importance of a contributor at this position couldn’t be understated, especially in the AFC East, where pivotal late season contests often present oppressive conditions.

“They’ll both compete and, again, that’s one that’s open,” offered Ryan. “There’s not a true guy that’s totally emerged that this is his position. There’s going to be real good competition there. That’s a position that you have to see it when the big lights are on. It’s kind of like a golfer: he can be a good guy on the putting green or the driving range but, when you have to hit the ball in front of thousands of people and stuff like that, some guys can’t draw the arm back. And I know I’d be one of them. So we’ll see about these guys.”

Family Night on Long Island tomorrow

The Jets will throw an extremely small bone to their large Long Island fanbase tomorrow as they will conduct a practice at Hofstra University’s Shuart Stadium at 6PM. As every Jets fan knows Hofstra was their home for the past 40 years before they moved to NJ last season. Those who are expecting fireworks on the field will be disappointed as the team practice will be non-contact in shorts and a large part will be signing autographs with the fans.

The team then will have a closed walk through on Thursday at their facilities in Florham Park before taking the field on Friday at the Meadowlands for their first pre-season game against St. Louis.

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