Number 6 is back in the saddle again.
After watching the majority of the Jets' OTA team drills this spring, Mark Sanchez today took snaps during the 11-on-11 portions of practice for a second consecutive workout. It was the first time this offseason that the media had seen the second-year passer lead the first unit against the starting defense and Sanchez was pleased with the results.
"It felt great. Like we said during this whole rehab process, the big thing is that next day after you try something new, after you really push it one day," said the talented 23-year-old who is more than three months removed from arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. "How's it going to feel on Wednesday after Tuesday's full practice?
"It was awesome. I hopped out of bed, came in, got my treatment and I feel great. Now the mental side is catching up to the physical side and I feel a lot sharper out there, Xs and Os, calling plays, feeling comfortable in the huddle and really going, so I thought we had a great day today."
On his first team snap, Sanchez looked down the left sideline and threw in the vicinity of Santonio Holmes. The ball fell incomplete as Antonio Cromartie had blanket coverage, but Sanchez would come back to Holmes on a play-action roll just a moment later. Faking a handoff to the left, the QB used his mobility to trek right before finding his wide receiver for an intermediate completion.
Later on in practice, Sanchez fluidly rolled right again and couldn't find anyone open up the right sideline. But Jets Nation can consider the ensuing incompletion an offensive success because he moved without hesitation and looked smooth all the way through.
"It felt really good. It was one of those things where I got the playcall from Schotty [Brian Schottenheimer] today and I didn't even think twice about it until after," Sanchez said. "The defense played it well, Revis had our guy covered and I just threw it away on the boundary. But I had to extend that rollout as far as possible right to the sideline and I was tapping on my way out and threw it out of bounds. As soon as I came back, 'Oh, all right.' It didn't even cross my mind."
Exacting revenge on Revis late in practice, Sanchez lofted a beautiful spiral to Jerricho Cotchery in a team situation. Revis appeared to have decent coverage, but Sanchez put it right out in front of his receiver for a basket catch as S Jim Leonhard came on just a hair too late for a PD.
"Mark's been doing a great job. Today he threw the ball excellent. In 7-on-7," Cotchery said. "There were a couple of routes I could've come out faster on the break. Besides those couple of passes, he almost had a perfect day."
Calling minicamp "as close to a game as we get in the summer," Sanchez always has targeted June 14-June 16 for a full return. And barring an unforeseen setback, he's ready for action next week.
"I just feel so much more comfortable. That's the best way to say it is that my comfort level is so high. I feel good and ready to go mentally for this minicamp where last year my head was spinning just trying to remember stuff," he said. "Then getting my leg down, it feels better than it ever has. This is what they [the medical staff] promised. They said, 'It's going to feel better than it ever felt.' They were right on."
Undeniably happy to be back behind center, the confident Sanchez was back barking calls and changing plays. The Jets will have five minicamp workouts next week and he's invited his targets out to Southern California in July for a passing camp.
"We're doing our own thing. We're getting some good work in on the field, but then at the same time we want to make sure these guys have some fun and build that trust off the field, build that camaraderie," he said. "When those AFC Championship Games come and it's loud, you trust those guys next you. We've hung out together, we've gone to eat, we've played with each other's kids and we've babysat for each other, stuff like that. And then we get into a game — second nature. 'This is my teammate.' We're brothers, really."