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Sanchez probable, should play Sunday

Mark Sanchez looks for a receiver in the

Mark Sanchez looks for a receiver in the 2nd quarter against the Miami Dolphins at the New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Dec. 12, 2010) Photo Credit: David Pokress / Newsday

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez is listed as probable for Sunday’s game against the Bears in Chicago and coach Rex Ryan said his chances of playing are at least 90 percent.

In the third day of the back-and-forth evaluation of Sanchez’s sore right shoulder, Ryan said the second-year quarterback looked much better Friday than he did on Thursday.

“He threw the ball a lot different today than he did yesterday,” Ryan said. “He had some zip on it. He looked really good. The thing we have to watch for now is how he comes back. He really pushed it and threw a lot of balls today.”

Ryan had said Sanchez was 99 percent on Wednesday only to downgrade him to 80 percent on Thursday. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer was more optimistic about Sanchez on Thursday, but Ryan said he felt Sanchez’s throws on Thursday were not “NFL caliber."

Those throws, however, were greatly improved during Friday’s practice.

Sanchez, who had an MRI on Monday and reportedly has a slight cartilage tear, tried to keep his shoulder loose during the portion of Friday’s practice open to the media. He repeatedly moved his arms in a windmill motion and began practice with short passes to Schottenheimer and Jets players.

Sanchez was unavailable to comment but said he felt good in a statement issued through the team.

“I threw it just like I did the week before and throughout the season,” Sanchez said in a statement. “The treatment has been working; I felt better than the two days prior and I’m going to be ready to play on Sunday.”

When backup quarterback Mark Brunell took some snaps, Sanchez put on a coat and continued throwing passes. Once under center, Sanchez fired several crisp passes, including one over the middle in a tight window to tight end Dustin Keller.

“After what I saw today I feel really good about where he is,” Ryan said. “I think we all saw, he was zipping it. He sent a message to all of us, mainly me, that he’s ready to go.”

Wide receiver Jericho Cotchery said Sanchez looked better Friday than he did all week.

“This is the first day he’s thrown like this,” Cotchery said. “As of right now, I think he looks good enough to play.”

If Sanchez is not able to play, the Jets would start the 40-year-old Brunell. Ryan said the Jets' game plan will remain the same for either quarterback.

“Nothing would change with Brunell,” Ryan said. “He’s zipping it and throwing balls over linebackers. He’s pumping (the ball) in there. I think he sensed as the week (went on) that there might be a chance (for him to play). His excitement and intensity kind of (rose) a little bit. Not that he hadn’t had it, but not at this extent.” 

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