Almost a full week into his fifth Jets' training camp, Mark Sanchez is in a positive frame of mind.
"It's going well. I feel like this is one of my best camps," he told me this afternoon. "I feel accurate, my arm feels great and my feet feel good. Coach (David) Lee has our feet working like crazy. Surprisingly my cleats haven't melted yet, but he's got us running all over the dang field. But we're in good shape and it's going well."
Locked in a highly publicized quarterback competition with rookie Geno Smith, Sanchez says he doesn't feel much different than in past years.
"I'm always my toughest critic and I'm always competing against myself and this year happens to be Geno, Greg (McElroy) and Matt (Simms)," he said. "But nothing has really changed. It's been like that since high school and college. You're always competing against somebody and you're always trying to do your very best."
Every throw Sanchez and Smith throw at camp is being charted. But onlookers don't know the goals of each drill, so there is sometimes more than what you see on the surface.
"Today 7-on-7, the emphasis was on down the field throws," Sanchez said. "It's kind of a catch-22 because you're working and trying to do the right thing with the football. But then right before you break the huddle, Marty and Rex are screaming, 'Throw the ball downfield. Throw the ball downfield.' The DBs know it's coming down the field."
So I asked Sanchez if the defensive backs had an inherent advantage, knowing the quarterbacks were basically without any underneath outlets.
"It's an absolute advantage," he said with a smile. "It's the worst drill for a quarterback because it just kind of throws off the way you're thinking. You're thinking, 'OK if I get my shot down the field, I'll think about it and I'm ready for it. But at the same time let's be smart with the ball — let's get it underneath if we have to.' It kind of flips everything and I guess the best way to go about it is just pretend you're in fourth down or fourth quarter situation where you're coming from behind and you have to make some tough throws."
Off the field, Sanchez says he keeps it relatively low key at camp and watches a lot of film in his room. He does like to mix up his food routine though and his roommate — C Nick Mangold — has benefited from some Cortland treats.
"I might be the death of him because every couple of nights I have a little bit of fast food and go out and grab a little snack of Footie Freeze (a popular local ice cream establishment). Footie Freeze is killing me, but I bring him back something and he's sitting there on the la-Z-boy, watching Big Bang Theory. He's got that on rerun in his room and he knows when I'm coming back."
As all smart quarterbacks tend to do, Sanchez takes care of his center.
"He kind of gives me a look like, 'Did you bring me any?' So I get him something every time," Sanchez said. "He's had Arby's, McDonald's and Pudgie's Pizza."