Sanchez Impresses as Jets Hold Off Giants

Fresh off being named the New York Jets starting quarterback, Mark Sanchez played like one

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez throws a pass during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the New York Giants Saturday, Aug. 29, 2009 in East Rutherford, N.J. The Jets won the game 27-25.

    Mark Sanchez hasn't played in a regular season game and he's already one up on Eli Manning in what is bound to be a continuing New York quarterback comparison.

    The Jets first-round draft pick is heading into his rookie season as a starting quarterback. New coach Rex Ryan made the move earlier this week in announcing Sanchez had beaten out Kellen Clemens in the contest to replace Brett Favre.

    Sanchez, who threw a touchdown pass and had an interception returned for one against Baltimore earlier this week, will be on display on Saturday night when the Jets (0-2) and Giants (1-1) meet at Giants Stadium in the annual preseason game for the braggin' rights in New York.

    Manning, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2004, had to wait half a season for coach Tom Coughlin to move him into the Giants starting lineup in place of Kurt Warner.

    "Right now, the task at hand is getting ready for the Giants and that means staying after and studying, just like I have, preparing to be the starter," said Sanchez, the fifth pick overall out of USC in the NFL draft. "Now I'm the starter and now I need to act like it."

    The last rookie quarterback—not counting replacement players in 1987—to start for the Jets was Matt Robinson in 1977.

    Manning just smiled when asked what advice he had for Sanchez.

    "Not a whole lot I can give," Manning said. "Just try and go out there and play well."

    Ryan said Sanchez won't be one of those great college quarterbacks who is a bust in the NFL because he lacks the arm strength. He has that and more.

    "I think he's got a good grasp of our system," Ryan said. "I think that will only get better. He has the talent to be an outstanding quarterback and I also love his mental makeup."

    Looking back, Manning felt he could have started as a rookie, too.

    "I don't know if it would have been the best thing or the worst, but I think I could have gone in and played early on," Manning said. "Kurt was here and he was a veteran and knew what was going on and had been in the trenches. I wasn't disappointed, where I got down about not starting. I just knew I was going to keep working, learn from Kurt and get a feel and when I got my chance to make the best of it."

    The best came in February 2008 when Manning led the Giants to a Super Bowl win over the previously unbeaten New England Patriots.

    Saturday's game will be the final major tuneup for both teams. First team offenses and defenses generally play into the third quarter in the third preseason game and then only make a token appearance in the final exhibition.

    The Giants are coming into the game off a poor performance in a 17-3 loss to Chicago. They will be without middle linebacker Antonio Pierce, who has been bothered by a sore foot, for the second straight game.

    Starting guards Chris Snee and Rich Seubert are expected to play after missing last week.

    "This is the dress rehearsal," defensive end Justin Tuck said. "We know that. We're looking forward to this. We have a great opponent we're playing against, a new coach who is going to be trying to feel his team out. We'll be doing the same and hoping we play better than we did in Chicago."

    The one thing the Giants want to avoid is another big injury. In last year's game, Pro Bowl defensive end Osi Umenyiora was lost for the season with a major knee injury. He is back and he has looked good.

    The one thing that has been lacking from the game in recent seasons has been the rivalry. Having Sanchez might add a little hype.

    "It's preseason and you want to go out there and compete and you want to win, but it's still in the back of your mind that it's preseason," running back Leon Washington said. "Still, Giants vs. the Jets, we seem to be the minority most of the time. It'll be a good game, but I don't think guys will make too much of it."

    It's a big game for Sanchez.

    "The thing at the forefront of my mind is just getting ready for the Giants," Sanchez said. "That's what I'm in there watching film for and that's what I'm preparing for. This is great news and I'm excited about it, but it's just time to go. It's time to get going."