Three months after surgery to strengthen the patella tendon in his left knee, Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez began running again on a treadmill on Thursday at USC, according to an NFL Network report that has circulated widely. The club has yet to confirm it, but it fits with the timetable Sanchez previously laid out for himself.

Certainly, it's a step in the right direction, but it's still uncertain whether Sanchez will take part in the Jets' minicamp scheduled for June 14-16. In his comments to the media a week ago today, Jets coach Rex Ryan said the team is taking the cautious route with Sanchez to make sure he's ready for training camp in July, but the coach sounded hopeful of getting his QB back sooner.

"We’re certainly not going to rush him all the way back, but he’s doing everything," Ryan told reporters last week. "He’s itching to go. He can’t stand it. He’s thrown the ball some. He looks great. He’s doing everything that we ask him to do and he’s going to be just fine. It’s really going to be disappointing to him if he can’t come back and do some of those mini camps or OTAs. I’d love to see him do that last minicamp if at all possible."

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For the moment, Sanchez is working in Los Angeles with a trainer at USC. He previously ran on an underwater treadmill at the Jets' practice facility in Florham Park, N.J.

On a related topic, free-agent quarterback Mark Brunell, who turns 40 in September, remains squarely in the Jets' sights as a possible mentor for Sanchez. The club can't sign him until another of its free agents signs elsewhere, but a source close to Brunell previously confirmed to Newsday his interest in the Jets and Ryan last week called him a "class act." For a player who expects to become a coach, it could be a stepping stone to an NFL assistant's job.