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Jets training camp preview

MISSION VIEJO, CA - MARCH 27: Mark Sanchez

MISSION VIEJO, CA - MARCH 27: Mark Sanchez works out at Mission Viejo High School in Mission Viejo, California on March 27, 2009. (Photo by Ben Liebenberg/Getty Images) Photo Credit: Getty/Ben Liebenberg - WHO'S THE QB?

The battle between Mark Sanchez and Kellen Clemens for the starting quarterback job will be by far the most pressing issue over these next four weeks. Coach Rex Ryan said both will get a fair shot at winning the job and that Sanchez's lucrative contract won't be a deciding factor. Neither really outperformed the other during the spring OTAs and mandatory minicamp and Clemens got most of the reps with the first team while Sanchez's time, for the most part, came with the second string. Unless he
falls flat on his face and is clearly outperformed by Clemens in the preseason, chances are Sanchez will get the starting nod.


Perhaps second only to the unsettled situation at QB is the one revolving around the perceived lack of a No. 1 receiver. The entire corps -- whether it's incumbent top man Jerricho Cotchery, Chansi Stuckey, Brad Smith, David Clowney or even Wallace Wright -- believes they are good enough to get the job done. But apparently not everyone believes the same. The team closely monitored Plaxico Burress' legal woes, never really denying the team's interest before eventually scaling it back after
Burress' June 15 court appearance left more questions than answers about his availability in 2009.


Disgruntled running backs Leon Washington and Thomas Jones are unhappy with their contracts and were looking to have their deals reworked in the offseason. Although Jones' chances still appear remote, the Jets seem to agree the dynamic Washington, who's in the final year of his four-year deal, is in line for a raise. But the two sides haven't been able to come to an amicable agreement because of the uncertainty of a new CBA deal in 2010. Washington hasn't discounted the possibility of holding
out, and making him happy would go a long way toward keeping things harmonious in the locker room.


Ryan has changed the atmosphere around the team quickly since taking over for the fired Eric Mangini in January. He's already made headlines with some of his comments, showing he's learned plenty from his father, Buddy. Rex doesn't have a problem speaking his mind, as evidenced by his verbal barbs directed toward Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Dolphins LB Channing Crowder that created quite a stir nationally. However, he'll be judged by wins and losses, not how many one-liners he can
produce, and his act may wear thin on some if the victories don't come.


Although LB Calvin Pace can practice with the team and play in the preseason games before serving his four-game suspension for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances, the Jets are still going to have to find a way to replace their top pash rusher from a year ago. Pace's leadership and locker room presence will be missed, and filling the big void during his suspension is a key concern.


LB Vernon Gholston: Ryan has talked up Gholston's progress throughout the spring and said last week that Gholston would be plugged into Pace's spot. A lot of players look good in shorts and T-shirts, but the true test comes when Gholston dons the pads, and the heat will be on him to perform -- quickly.

RB Shonn Greene: Projected as the team's future featured running back thanks to his bruising 5-11, 226-pound frame, the Iowa product won't just be an insurance policy for Jones and Washington. There's a good chance he could also get the call in goal-line situations as well as serve as the team's fourth-quarter closer.

WR David Clowney: With no clear-cut go-to receiver, the second-year pro can move up high on the depth chart with a solid camp. Clowney burst onto the scene as a rookie when he racked up 163 yards and two touchdowns on four catches in a preseason game against the Browns. His speed gives the Jets a downfield threat, but he didn't have a great spring, dropping several passes.


Ryan and the other former Ravens who migrated north from Baltimore like LB Bart Scott, S Jim Leonhard and DE Marques Douglas won't have to wait long to renew their acquaintances with their old friends. The Jets will play the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium Aug. 24 in a nationally televised preseason game on ESPN.


Site: SUNY Cortland

When: Veterans report tomorrow; first practice is Friday

Admission: Free

Notable: This marks the first time the Jets haven't held at least a portion of their training camp on Long Island since 1968. But they will host a special "Family Night” practice at Hofstra's James M. Shuart Stadium at 6 p.m. Aug. 12 and the entire team will head to the sidelines and sign autographs for fans at the practice's conclusion. Additionally, there will be three practices open to the public (Aug. 22, 26 and 27) at the Jets' training facility in Florham Park, N.J.


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