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SportsFootballJets

Sanchez upbeat for Sunday's game

Rookie Mark Sanchez showed up for his final press conference before Sunday's AFC title game in Indianapolis wearing a t-shirt with a picture of a baseball bat that had a lightning bolt on the label and "Wonderboy" written on the barrel. "You know, Roy Hobbs," Sanchez said, referring to the hero of the movie "The Natural."
 
It figures the California kid is hoping for a Hollywood ending like in the movie when an ailing Hobbs, played by Robert Redford, breaks his bat on a foul line drive and then uses one made by the batboy -- "Wonderboy" -- to hit the game-winning homer that hits a light standard, causing a brilliant shower of glass like a fireworks display.
 
Explaining his wardrobe choice, Sanchez added, "I'm wearing everything that could bring something good."
 
Coach Rex Ryan was in an equally upbeat mood when he made his appearance in front of the media. He said he told his team, "You can't play tight. This is a kid's game."
 
Newsday's Bob Glauber asked Ryan is he ever got nervous before a game. With no hesitation and a totally deadpan expression, Ryan replied, "I always say this: 'Whatever you guys do, just d-d-d-d-don't panic.'"
 
If he's that funny in front of his team, the Jets should be a relatively loose bunch heading to Indy.
 
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Defensive lineman Shaun Ellis, who suffered a broken left hand in the divisional playoff win over San Diego, practiced today and expects to play with a soft cast on Sunday. He tried one model with the thumb free, which might make it easier to tackle, but Ellis decided he was more comfortable with his thumb inside the cast around his fist. Ryan said Ellis would not be limited and will perform his usual role.
 
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While answering questions about diminutive safety Jim Leonhard, Ryan was asked if he thought somebody was playing a joke on him the first time he saw how small Leonhard is. "No," said Ryan, "I thought they were playing a joke on me when they wanted us to cut him." Leonhard wound up signing a one-year deal to play for Ryan in Baltimore and then followed him to the Jets last summer. It was a costly decision. "Trust me, we're not the only team that knew how good Jim Leonhard was," Ryan said. "There was a team that basically offered him over a million dollars more in his package to go somewhere else, but he chose to come here."

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