Jets' Sanchez breaks smoothly from the gate

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
CORTLAND, N.Y. -- When asked what he thought of Kellen Clemens and Mark Sanchez on the first day of their quarterback battle, New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan had the most complementary words to offer about the rookie.

Here's Ryan's entire response after a waterlogged practice Friday morning at SUNY Cortland:

"It probably wasn't the best day, throwing completions," Ryan said. "But I thought Sanchez had a really good day. When you look at it, he threw a couple balls that could've been picked. Some trap coverages that [defensive coordinator Mike] Pettine and his crew threw out there, he threw into a couple, but other than that I thought he threw the comeback and deep out exceptionally well today.

"Clemens, I thought he had good command of that huddle and did some things well. It just wasn't putting up the numbers or those deep completions. I think they weren't as many as we're used to seeing."

Ryan is treating Clemens more like the starter for now. The fourth-year pro, who split starts with Chad Pennington two years ago, is getting the first-team reps. But Sanchez will be slipped in. The percentage will change as the competition dictates.

Sanchez was pleased with his first NFL day in full pads, the first step in trying to overtake the veteran.

"I think you just keep plugging away one practice at a time and then, try and not look at the big picture," Sanchez said. "Just take it one rep, one drill at a time and get completions, build those completions on top of each other, get a few in a row, get a little momentum going and those guys will start to feel. That's when you can start talking and gaining a little confidence as camp goes on.

"It's only Day One, and it was a great start, but I've got to keep working."

Clemens suggested he's not looking over his shoulder.

"Coach Ryan has designated me the starter going in," Clemens said. "So my goal, my preparation, my concentration is to prepare myself and my teammates to make a run at the world championship."