The best piece of advice rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez has received while making his jump as an NFL quarterback: Just breathe. It's wisdom he's taken from veteran QB and fellow Southern Cal alum Carson Palmer.
"I just sit in my locker for 30 seconds and take a deep breath and think, 'Man, that was awesome,' " Sanchez said.
The rookie is living his dream, showing that same giddiness that a child would at times, such as running after wide receiver Chansi Stuckey in the end zone after his 31-yard TD vs. the Giants. So far Sanchez has dealt with the pressure well, using his USC experiences as a guide.
"The most important thing I took from there is every game is the Rose Bowl. Every game is UCLA, Notre Dame, every rivalry we have," he said. "It's that and even more. These stadiums aren't even packed — it's louder than I've ever heard in my life."
When the regular season begins, things are going to get even louder. With the season opener at Houston less than two weeks away, Sanchez is beginning to develop a weekly routine as an NFL quarterback.
Now that he's working with a group of professionals, that routine is far different from his college days.
"In college a typical conversation was 'Hey, who's throwing the party this weekend? What's going on? What kind of tests do you have tomorrow? What's going on after the game around campus?' " he said. "Now its guys going through 'Hey, my daughter is switching schools' or 'I was late getting my kid to the bus today' or something like that. It's a whole different dynamic. That's been different."
Things have changed for Sanchez on the field, too, of course. In his first three preseason games he's noticed things he'd like to work. He mentioned timing issues in going through his reads and reducing delay-of-game penalties.
Another thing No. 6 is trying to improve is his 59.4 percent completion rate, making accurate throws when teammates are open. Against the Giants he just missed Jerricho Cotchery in the end zone, mentioning that it wasn't the veteran wideout's fault but rather his, that he needed to throw the ball a bit sooner.
After the play the former Trojan was taken back to his high school days in Mission Viejo, Calif.
"I could hear Coach [Bob] Johnson, my high school coach, saying, 'An hour and a half ago, dude,' " he said.
Although he is his worst critic, Sanchez has had plenty of positives to take from his play so far. In 15 preseason drives he's led the offense to a TD or field goal six times and he's gone 19-for-32 passing for 280 yards with two TDs.
He's realized during his transition that NFL defensive backs are highly intelligent.
"The pass you complete on the back hip on a corner route just doesn't fly anymore. That ball's getting picked for sure, at least tipped," he said. "Those are things you adjust to on the fly, and I think I've done a fairly good job so far."
Against the Giants, he led nine drives that produced 20 points and completed 13 of 20 for 149 yards and his TD to Stuckey.
"The good thing was we were moving the ball enough to get field goals, so we were getting points, but we want to get as many touchdowns as possible," he said. "I kept us from getting a couple of touchdowns, but that's the way it goes and we ended up doing well enough to win."
For the final preseason game, head coach Rex Ryan will be playing most of the starters only one drive. Although Sanchez would like to play more, he plans to take advantage of his time and root on his teammates for the rest of the game.
"I'm going to be right up there cheering for my guys, Britt Davis, guys I've grown close to, Michael Parenton, Jack Simmons," Sanchez said. "When they get a chance to play a little more, that's going to be huge for them. It's a big opportunity."