Shortly after arriving in Cortland, N.Y., head coach Rex Ryan for the first time stated his quarterback depth chart for the start of training camp.
"Kellen Clemens will be No. 1, [Mark] Sanchez will be two and [Erik] Ainge will be three," said Ryan. "Clemens going in will get the first reps and Sanchez will get twos. But obviously we are going to give Sanchez the chance to be with the ones as well. I would say that it will be an open competition. We will evaluate them every day. We will then make the best decision."
Quarterbacks 1 and 2 proved how friendly this competition actually has been, but they also see the opportunity to step things up in the coming weeks.
"Right now I have one goal for training camp," said Clemens. "It's to improve myself and improve the team as much as I can. There is going to be a lot of hype about the quarterback situation and all sorts of other things, but I think we all have one goal. It's to get better as individuals and improve collectively as a football team so we can go out and win some games."
Sanchez, the fifth pick of the April draft, sees the benefits that can be acquired in working alongside an NFL veteran signalcaller.
"You learn a lot from a guy that's been around for four years," said Sanchez. "There is a lot of experience there. That's important to me, to respect him and then obviously compete. That's a form of respect, knowing that I have to compete with a great quarterback. It's all been fun and now it's time to get serious and play."
Clemens as the veteran has the advantage coming in because he has been here. Well, not literally here in upstate New York or under Ryan, but he's been to three previous Jets training camps.
"It's a comforting thing for me," he said. "Coming into spring football, and now training camp as we embark on that journey, already knowing the system as good as pretty much anyone on the team other than [Brian] Schottenheimer, it gives me the opportunity to focus on other intricacies of playing my position. When you can do that, I think it not only gives you the opportunity to improve yourself but also your teammates."
Sanchez dismissed any notion that he was nervous, describing his feeling going into camp as a rush of adrenaline.
"This is all I've ever dreamed of doing and now I'm going to get a chance to do it," he said. "I'll be sure to get my rest, follow the veterans around and kind of understand what camp is all about and really get a feel for things. This is where the season starts, so it's time to get focused and real serious."
He even delighted the few fans waiting outside by signing autographs.
"It's a beautiful area and something I've never experienced before, being from Southern California. This is very nice. It's a beautiful college. I'm sure the fields are going to be great. The training room is all set up. Everything is ready. They [SUNY Cortland] did a good job welcoming us."
Clemens reassured that a competition can bring the best out of a player rather than the negative connotation that it's been given.
"The Jets are going to put the best players out there at every position that are going to help us win football games, regardless of pay," he said.
The players seem to have faith in their coach that as long as they go out there and perform, nothing else matters.
"The guy who wins the job will be the best guy, in my opinion, that can help us win," said Ryan. "I think Clemens to start will get a few more of the first-team reps. We have to get Mark going as well. We'll see how it progresses throughout the summer. It won't be a set amount of reps that this guy gets. We'll leave that to Brian Schottenheimer and the coaches. Mark is going to be given an opportunity to win this job."