Sanchez starts slow, but builds on success

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Sanchez starts slow, but builds on success

By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- After an abysmal performance in a loss to the Ravens in Week 1 (10-for-21, 74 yards, 0 TD), conventional wisdom was that Mark Sanchez needed to get something going early against the Patriots this Sunday.

He didn't, and he didn't record a first down until midway through the second quarter.

The Jets quarterback had just one drive in the first quarter and he opened it with a near-interception. He sandwiched a five-yard hand-off to Shonn Greene between another incompletion for a more underwhelming start than even imagined. Total time of possession? 62 seconds. It wasn't all Sanchez' fault; the Jets defense couldn't get off the field.But in his limited time on thefield,Sanchez looked as inept as he had against Baltimore.

But, slowly and surely, he shook it off.

The difference in Mark Sanchez between the first and second quarters was obvious. Example? At one point, the Patriots had nine first downs to New York's zero. At the half it was 12-10, Pats.And Sanchez enteredhalftime with respectable numbers: 12-for-16 for 121 yards and a touchdown, brought in by Braylon Edwards.

Some of the passes were still subpar.A second-and-8 ball he threw at LaDainian Tomlinson's feet when the running back was wide open in the flat inside the Patriots 10. Both of the sacks -- the first inflicted by Gerard Warren, the second by Tully Banta-Cain -- were probably avoidable.

But Sanchezmovedthe chains. His confidence grew. On a different second-and-eight in the same drive, the Patriots defensive line flushed Sanchez out of the pocket and he was forced to scramble. Instead of looking skittish as he so often did against Baltimore, he kept his head and created,shoveling a throw toTomlinson for nine yards and a first down.

Tomlinson and Shonn Greene were there for Sanchez on what running game the Jets attempted. But it was Edwards and Dustin Keller who helped Sanchez get the offense in gear and develop the passing game. The receivers shared 7 of their quarterback's 16 completions for 42 and 47-yards, respectively.

What they did was give Sanchez reliable options. The plays weren't big and they weren't sexy, but they added up to 10 points to keep the Jets in the game. And they gave something, finally, for Mark Sanchez to build on.

And build he did. The quarterback completed 21-30 passes for 220 yards, three touchdowns, and zero interceptions in New York's 28-14 win over the Patriots.

"This is just the beginning,'' Sanchez said. "It's still a long season. It's just tough when you lose that first game and it feels like you're 0-10. It's nice that it was a short week.''

A victory and some confidence were not his only gains. It sounded like Sanchez also gained some perspective.

"It was great, coming out this week and being myself and having fun. I told guys after the first drive of the game, 'Smile, have a little fun. Get animated out here,'" he said. "We're playing a kids game. We're grown men but we're playing a kids game and to treat it like that. Be smart, but have fun."

Mary Paoletti can be reached at mpaoletti@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

Secretary of Navy: Cardona 'may have to leave the Patriots' to serve

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Secretary of Navy: Cardona 'may have to leave the Patriots' to serve

United States Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus joined the Dan Patrick Show on Thursday to discuss new Ravens draftee Keenan Reynolds, a record-setting quarterback during his career at the Naval Academy. In so doing, Mabus hit on the uncertain status of Patriots long-snapper Joe Cardona. 

"Right now we do have a process," Mabus said. "It hasn't got up to me yet to [decide on whether or not Reynolds will be eligible to play], but there are a lot of paths to both play and to serve. 

"We've got Joe Cardona, long snapper for the Patriots. He played . . . last year for the Patriots while he was on active duty because he was able to work them both out. Now he's been assigned to a ship, and he's going to report to that ship. He may have to leave the Patriots for a year or so to go fulfill that roll."

The playing status for individuals like Reynolds and Cardona is always somewhat uncertain given their commitment. Last season, Cardona was able to serve by working at the Naval Preparatory Academy during his time away from the Patriots facilities. Once his rookie season ended, he headed back to the Newport, Rhode Island-based school to work full-time and help mentor students there. 

Cardona was scheduled to make his way to Norfolk, Virginia later in the offseason and live there for about two months to participate in the Navy's Basic Division Officer Course, or "BDOC," which was required before he could report to his ship as a Surface Warfare Officer. From there, he was scheduled to travel to Bath, Maine, to work on the USS Zumwalt. 

"I'll get to work there and figure out a schedule that doesn't interfere with either of my jobs," Cardona said back in January following New England's loss to Denver in the AFC title game, "and hopefully be back on the field next year."

Cardona has long maintained that his job as an active member of the Navy is his top priority. Should his duties on the USS Zumwalt interfere with his long-snapping work with the Patriots, he could realistically sit out for the season. 

The Patriots signed veteran long-snapper Christian Yount earlier this offseason in a move that reminded those following the team that Cardona is not guaranteed to be available for 2016. Patriots defensive end Rob Ninkovich has long-snapped in the past and typically serves as the team's emergency snapper. 

Cardona was selected in the fifth round of the 2015 draft and played in all 16 regular-season games and two postseason games for the Patriots last season. 

Caserio: Wasn't the plan to aquire 2017 4th-rounder for Deflategate

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Caserio: Wasn't the plan to aquire 2017 4th-rounder for Deflategate

When the Patriots walked away from last weekend's draft, they did so with an extra fourth round pick to be used in 2017. That was especially noteworthy given that the Patriots will be docked a fourth-rounder next year as part of the Deflategate punishment handed down to the team by the league. 

But when Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio joined Sirius XM's "Move the Chains" program this week, he said they weren't dead-set on grabbing an extra fourth-rounder for next year. 

"Not necessarily," Caserio explained. "When you get into the draft, you're not really sure how it's going to unfold. You go into the process, you get yourselves prepared to pick whenever you're going to pick."

The Patriots traded down twice and up once during the three-day draft process. On Day 2, they traded the No. 61 overall pick to the Saints in exchange for picks No. 78 and No. 112, which turned into North Carolina State guard Joe Thuney and Georgia receiver Malcolm Mitchell, respectively.

On Day 3, Caserio and Bill Belichick made two more deals. First, they dealt two sixth-rounders (No. 196 and No. 204) and a seventh-rounder (No. 250) to Miami for the Dolphins' fifth-rounder (No. 147). Then the No. 147 overall selection was flipped to the Seahawks, along with No. 243, in exchange for No. 225 and a fourth-rounder in 2017. The Patriots eventually spent No. 225 on Arizona State receiver Devin Lucien.

"I don't think anybody had a master plan, like, 'This is how it's going to go,' " Caserio said. "I think you look at the draft, and you kind of assess where you are relative to the players you're going to pick. If you feel it makes sense to make a trade, then you go ahead and do it. If you don't, then you go ahead and pick.

"Like, we were prepared to pick there with that fifth-round pick [at No. 147] that we ended up moving. But the way it worked out, like, I don't any of us would've said going to the draft, like, 'This is how we think it's going to go.' "

The league's punishment for Deflategate states that the Patriots will lose the higher of their two selections in the fourth round for next year so it's unclear as to whether it will be their own fourth-rounder or Seattle's that will be erased. Either way, at least now they are scheduled to pick in the fourth round in 2017, whereas before the Seahawks deal they were not.