CORTLAND, N.Y. - It's not easy asserting yourself on a team full of outsized personalities, from the head coach to the veteran yakkers up and down the Jets' roster.
That is doubly true when you play on offense for an outfit built around defense, even for a quarterback coming off a dreamlike playoff run as a rookie.
But Mark Sanchez said Wednesday he is ready for his close- up, prepared at age 23 to evolve from highly paid heartthrob to true team leader.
"That is one of the goals this year that I talked about with [Brian Schottenheimer]," he said. "This is my team. This is my offense. You need to own it. He looked at me and I looked at him and that's what we said. That's it. It's about on and off the field being the quarterback.
"When we go out to dinner, when we're in meetings, how do you act? How do you carry yourself? When you walk in the room people should know: That's the quarterback. That's our guy."
Acting like the quarterback is only part of the job, of course. Performing matters most, and Sanchez's standing in the locker room would be helped by improving on numbers that included 12 touchdown passes and 20 interceptions.
So far coaches and teammates like what they see on the field.
"He's taken ownership of the offense," linebacker Bart Scott said. "He has more awareness as far as when to make checks, when to check out of plays, understanding what the defense is. He's learned a lot."
Said coach Rex Ryan: "The team knows nobody worked harder than him. He knows the playbook. He knows the way things are supposed to be run."
Sanchez was energized after the morning practice by a back-and-forth session in which both the offense and defense had their moments. He said experience means learning to shrug off setbacks and not fret the consequences."
"It's like, 'OK, I made the mistake. Now what am I going to do?' " he said. "'What am I going to do to show these guys that this is nothing? We've got these guys. It's a whole new game.'"
Sanchez said his parents instilled leadership skills in him early, and he has tried to extend them to his current job.
"It's, 'This guy's tired,' and I'll pick up his pads for him. Or, 'You need some water?' Or, 'Give these guys a 30-second break,' and really having that awareness to try and read other guys," he said. "And when they do a great job you've got to let them know. And when they do something wrong you've got to let them know.
"That's probably the toughest part, trying to find your way in there. I love that, too. It's a challenge to be a leader like that, and you have to do it by example."
Other players have picked up on the notion Sanchez now is The Man on offense. Late-arriving receiver Santonio Holmes even requested to be his training camp roommate.
"It's like winter formal: The girl asks the guy," Sanchez joked. "He said something about it when we were eating. He said, 'Hey, we cool rooming together?' I said, 'Yeah, absolutely, man.' I got in there and got the top bunk, so I'm lucky."