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Jets rookie Sanchez earns a passing grade

Associated Press / August 1, 2009

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Score Round 1 to the rookie.

Mark Sanchez received the slight edge from coach Rex Ryan yesterday in the first practice of what could be a summerlong competition with Kellen Clemens to be the New York Jets’ starting quarterback.

“It probably wasn’t the best day in throwing completions, but I thought Sanchez had a really good day,’’ Ryan said after the morning practice.

“When you look at it, he threw a couple of balls that could’ve been picked, but other than that . . . I thought he threw the comeback and deep out exceptionally well today.’’

Added Sanchez: “It was a great day. I took care of the ball well. I think I got off to a good start.’’

Still, Sanchez, the fifth overall pick out of Southern California, and Clemens, a veteran heading into his fourth season in Brian Schottenheimer’s offense, had their struggles in a steady rain at SUNY Cortland.

“With Clemens, I thought he had good command of that huddle and did some things well,’’ Ryan said. “It just wasn’t, you know, putting up the numbers or deep completions.’’

Ryan has declared it an open competition, with the team undeterred by Sanchez being a rookie, or his big contract and face-of-the-franchise status.

“It’s a long camp,’’ Sanchez said. “We’ve got a long way to go. We’re taking things in stride, and I think we’re doing a great job.’’

In other Jets news, running back Leon Washington reported to the team and participated in drills. Washington was a no-show when the rest of the team checked into the players’ dormitory Thursday because of a contract dispute.

Redskins sign Orakpo
The Redskins sealed the deal with first-round draft pick Brian Orakpo, reaching agreement with the defensive end/linebacker from the University of Texas on a five-year, $20 million contract. The deal for the No. 13 overall pick includes $12.1 million in guaranteed money. Primarily a defensive end in college, Orakpo is envisioned as a starting strongside linebacker who moves to the line in pass-rushing situations . . . Five other first-round choices also reached agreement: Rams offensive tackle Jason Smith, the second overall pick, signed a five-year deal; quarterback Josh Freeman, the 17th pick from Kansas State, signed a five-year contract with the Buccaneers and will be given an opportunity to compete against Luke McCown, Byron Leftwich, and Josh Johnson for the starting job; the Chargers signed linebacker Larry English, the 16th pick, to a five-year contract, the Lions signed tight end Brandon Pettigrew, taken 20th with the second of two first-round picks, to a five-year contract, and the Dolphins announced they had agreed to terms with cornerback Vontae Davis, the 25th pick.

Missing Broncos
Knowshon was a no-show, and Champ Bailey a no-go. Knowshon Moreno was absent along with fellow first-round draft pick Robert Ayers when the Broncos kicked off training camp under new coach Josh McDaniels, making them the first rookie holdouts in Denver since running back Tatum Bell showed up late in 2004. Bailey, the perennial Pro Bowl cornerback who suffered through an injury-filled 2008 season and underwent offseason elbow surgery, recently said he was 100 percent. But he was held out of the team’s first workout along with defensive tackle Marcus Thomas and safety Renaldo Hill. Moreno, a running back from Georgia, was the 12th overall pick in the draft, and Ayers, a pass-rusher from Tennessee, was the 18th selection . . . Two other first-round picks remained unsigned with the opening of training camp - offensive tackle Andre Smith of the Bengals and Vikings receiver Percy Harvin . . . Longtime Colts assistant coaches Tom Moore and Howard Mudd are returning from retirement. Coach Jim Caldwell announced that Moore, the offensive coordinator, and Mudd, the offensive line coach, would be back with the team after saying they would retire because of changes to the NFL pension plan. Both feared they would lose money if they did not retire under the old rules, and were still worried, even after owner Jim Irsay promised not to shortchange them. Moore, 70, will be the senior offensive coordinator, Mudd, 67, the senior offensive line coach. Pete Metzelaars and Clyde Christensen replaced them during the team’s minicamp . . . Two-time Pro Bowl guard Mike Wahle retired after being released by the Seahawks for failing a physical.

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