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As much as he plays the role of the California golden boy, truth is, New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez can be a little bit of a renaissance man. Take for example the whole experience of being on stage at the Tony Awards Sunday night.
There he was in a tuxedo the night before the Jets' mandatory minicamp began, talking about how much he likes musicals even though his Jets teammates give him a hard time.
With one performance over, Sanchez had another at the Jets' Florham Park training facility Monday. He participated fully in the first practice, but sat out of 11-on-11 drills for the afternoon session which, according to a team spokesperson, was the plan all along.
The second-year quarterback is recovering from offseason knee surgery. He had the patella-stabilizing ligament in his left knee repaired in February.
"I feel like this offseason study has really helped, obviously haven't arrived, but I'm getting there," Sanchez said.
Sanchez said one of his professors at USC, Dr. Susan Evans, encouraged her students to see live theater, so Sanchez went to some West Coast productions as an undergraduate.
"When I came out here she was on me about taking advantage of the city and getting to the theater," Sanchez said.
It's advice he took. Sanchez has been to see "In the Heights," "Rock of Ages," "Fela," "Jersey Boys," "Wicked" and "Fences"; and he's met a lot of the Broadway performers and stage managers who, when they see his name on the will-call list, invite him backstage.
"I really respect what they do," Sanchez said. "Eight shows a week, I mean that's tough -- unbelievable body control and coordination and then the voices on top of that, it's unbelievable."
So on Sunday night he presented a number for one of the shows up for best musical, "Memphis." It's a show he has seen three times, and even took Jets tight end Dustin Keller.
Sanchez posed on the red carpet last night with "Wicked" veteran Idina Menzel and girlfriend Jamie-Lynn Sigler of "Sopranos" fame.
There wasn't a lot of turnaround time, but Sanchez was ready for practice, at least the first session that he could fully participate in. A team spokesperson added that Sanchez will take part only in the morning team drills Tuesday and Wednesday. Until last week, he was participating only in 7-on-7 drills as he rehabilitated his left knee.
"I'm feeling great," Sanchez said. "Physically, good. I didn't hesitate on anything. Physically in running around, I just felt solid and better than I have ever felt, really, and that's what they promised."
Teammates have also noticed Sanchez's progress.
"Every day he's been able to do the team type stuff you can tell he's getting more comfortable," fullback Tony Richardson said.
Sanchez called plays from the sideline a la offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer during the afternoon practice. Wide receiver David Clowney said he has been diligent on the road back from injury and has been at the Jets' practice facility morning and night, rehabilitating his knee and working on getting the playbook down.
"That man looks good, that man looks real good," Clowney said. "He's out there making plays, like unbelievable throws right now."
The Jets have two more days of minicamp before breaking for six weeks, then training camp on Aug. 1 in Cortland, N.Y. Jets coach Rex Ryan said Sanchez put in extra work at the team's training facility on Saturday and Sunday.
Sanchez said he will head home, talk to friend Carson Palmer and host an informal session for the wide receivers to get ready for the season.
And maybe, he'll have time to fit in a few more shows.
Jane McManus is a columnist for ESPNNewYork.com. Follow her on Twitter. Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.