Friday, July 31, 2009 Updated: August 1, 12:44 PM ET
Jets' Sanchez tops Clemens after Day 1
CORTLAND, N.Y. -- Score Round 1 to the rookie.
Mark Sanchez received the slight edge from coach Rex Ryan on Friday in the first practice of what could be a summer-long competition with Kellen Clemens to be the New York Jets' starting quarterback.
Although Kellen Clemens entered camp as the Jets' starter, Mark Sanchez (above) has the edge after the first day of camp.
"It probably wasn't the best day in throwing completions, but I thought Sanchez had a really good day," Ryan said after the morning practice. "When you look at it, he threw a couple of balls that could've been picked, but other than that ... I thought he threw the comeback and deep out exceptionally well today."
Added Sanchez: "It was a great day. I took care of the ball well. I think I got off to a good start."
Still, Sanchez, the fifth overall pick out of Southern California, and Clemens, a veteran heading into his fourth season in Brian Schottenheimer's offense, had their share of struggles in a steady rain at SUNY Cortland.
"It was wet-ball conditions, but probably the defensive conditions," Ryan said. "That's a good group back there."
Sanchez was 2-for-5 in 11-on-11 drills, while Clemens was 4-for-8 with an interception by Darrelle Revis.
"With Clemens, I thought he had good command of that huddle and did some things well," Ryan said. "It just wasn't, you know, putting up the numbers or deep completions. There weren't as many as we're used to seeing, I think."
With the sun shining during the late practice, both quarterbacks seemed to be more on the mark. Neither had a turnover as Clemens was 4-of-5, including a 70-yard touchdown pass to Brad Smith, while Sanchez was 4-of-8.
Ryan and the quarterbacks were not available to the media after the session.
Clemens is listed as No. 1 on the team's depth chart, followed by Sanchez, Erik Ainge and undrafted free agent Chris Pizzotti.
"I appreciate you sharing that with me," said a laughing Clemens, who apparently wasn't aware of the news. "It means a lot going into it. I think it gives me more time with the wide receivers and tight ends and the offensive line to develop more chemistry. That's exciting."
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Ryan has declared it an open competition, with the team undeterred by Sanchez being a rookie, or his big contract and face-of-the-franchise status.
"It's a long camp," Sanchez said. "We've got a long way to go. We're taking things in stride, and I think we're doing a great job."
Clemens completed his first two passes of 11-on-11s and then had his third throw, a long toss along the right sideline to running back Danny Woodhead, knocked away by David Harris. After another incompletion, he connected with Dustin Keller, but then hung a long pass to David Clowney that was easily picked off by Revis.
"It kind of went the way that you expect the first practice to go," Clemens said. "The rain was a little bit of an issue. We had some balls sail, to be honest. But it's a good opportunity for us because we're certainly not going to play 16 regular-season games without playing one in the rain."
Meanwhile, Sanchez had a slow start as he was "sacked" by a blitzing James Ihedigbo.
"I better go back and look at it," Sanchez said. "I'm sure if it was on the QB, then Shotty would have said something right away. That's something we'll look at. Those things happen."
When asked what Sanchez has to do to win the starting job, Ryan was clear about what he expects from both the rookie and Clemens.
"He's got to be the best quarterback and the best leader," Ryan said. "I think we're going to compete everyday, and we'll end up at the end of the day doing what's best for our football team where we can win on that particular Sunday."
Ryan began a five-day liquid diet after saying he weighed in at 340 pounds, 30 pounds heavier than he was at the end of last season. "It was a good summer," he quipped. ... Drew Coleman, competing for a backup spot at cornerback, intercepted Pizzotti and returned it for a touchdown. ... Woodhead didn't practice in the afternoon, but it was uncertain if he was injured in the morning session or was simply given the late session off.