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Monday, March 21, 2011
Jets GM: Sanchez not the type to slack off

By Tim Graham

NEW ORLEANS -- NFL players who'll be hurt the most by a prolonged work stoppage are those developing youngsters with big responsibilities.

Offseason workout time is crucial for players such as New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, but general manager Mike Tannenbaum didn't seem too concerned about the 24-year-old being idled.

"Mark Sanchez loves football," Tannenbaum told me in the lobby of the Roosevelt Hotel, where the NFL's annual owners meeting is taking place. "It's one of the reasons we drafted him. When he comes back, once the labor situation is resolved, we'll be ready to coach him and develop him.

"But when we drafted Mark, we felt he was a competitive guy. He's probably even more competitive than we first thought of. He comes across sometimes as the stereotypical West Coast person, but he's ultra, ultra competitive, ultra driven."

Sanchez organized a "Jets West" camp last summer, paying for his receivers and tight ends to join him in Mission Viejo, Calif., for informal workouts. He didn't have to do that. His teammates remarked the sessions were helpful in cultivating chemistry and getting their offense out to a hot start.

Sanchez won't turn 25 until November. He already has started 37 games, second-most in the AFC East. He has tied the NFL record for most road playoff victories by a quarterback.

"We're really pleased with how Mark's progressing in his two years," Tannenbaum said. "The more meaningful the game, the better he played, which are good reasons to be encouraged.

"We feel good about him being a cornerstone guy for us a long time."