CORTLAND, N.Y. — Mark Sanchez wants to be like Eli Manning.
And so far, the New York Jets quarterback is right on track. He'll need one terrific finish to his fourth NFL season to keep pace, though. Super Bowl or bust? Not quite, but the pressure's on — and Sanchez knows it.
"This whole thing is a learning process, and it really is a marathon and not a sprint," Sanchez said after training camp practice Monday. "So, just keep your head down, keep working, smile, and have a good time with it."
The similarities through the New York quarterbacks' first three NFL seasons are unmistakable: Doubts from fans and media that they could ever truly lead their franchise. Struggles on the field. The immense pressure of playing in New York.
Sanchez knows all this and has worked hard in the offseason, perhaps spurred on even more by the presence of Tim Tebow as his backup quarterback. One day this spring, Sanchez was curious and decided to see just how closely he and the Giants quarterback compare through their first three seasons.
- Sanchez: 9,209 yards passing with 55 touchdowns and 51 interceptions in 47 games — with four road playoff wins.
- Manning: 8,049 yards passing with 54 TDs and 44 INTs in 41 games — with two playoff losses.
Oh, and their quarterback ratings? Exactly the same at 73.2.
The difference for Manning came the following season, when he elevated his game in the postseason and began his climb to elite status.
"That fourth year, I think he threw one pick in the playoffs when they won that Super Bowl — one," Sanchez said. "And I think he might have thrown 20 in the regular season. I've been there, and plenty of quarterbacks have been there, so you see the margin for error in this league is so small. And once the quarterback, the offense and the coordinator really realize that, and take advantage of that and show that on the field, you can win a lot of games and be very successful."
Of course, that is the type of success Sanchez and the rest of the Jets franchise are hoping for. And seeing how Manning was able to handle it gives them all hope.
Appearing loose and relaxed despite the perceived pressure with Tebow in town, Sanchez has had a good start to camp. Other than a ho-hum performance Sunday, Sanchez has been sharp and the clear leader of the offense.
Hours after sending a gracious yet puzzling middle-of-the-night text message to a former college coach, police say Tennessee Titans receiver O.J. Murdock died in an apparent suicide.
Tampa police spokeswoman Andrea Davis said officers found Murdock about 8:30 a.m. inside his car with what appeared to be self-inflicted gunshot wounds. The car was parked in front of Middleton High School, where Murdock made a name for himself as a dynamic receiver and state champion sprinter in track and field.
Al McCray, assistant head coach/receivers at Fort Hays State, said when he woke up at his Kansas home on Monday he found a message on his cell phone from the player, thanking him for everything he had done for Murdock and his family. The athlete concluded the text with an apology that baffled McCray, who said he had known the 25-year-old since Murdock was in middle school.
Murdock, who signed with the Titans as an undrafted free agent in 2011 and spent all of last season on injured reserve, was taken to Tampa General, where he died.
The speedy receiver did not report to training camp over the weekend because of what the Titans said at the time was a personal issue. He last was with the team in June for mini-camp.
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has returned to the team's training camp residence hall after an allergic reaction at lunch sent him to a local hospital.
Coach Leslie Frazier said after Monday's practice that Peterson ate some seafood that caused his face to swell and shortness of breath. An ambulance was called, and Peterson was diagnosed with the allergic reaction at the hospital. He returned to the Minnesota State University campus soon after.
Frazier says the situation was a "little bit of a scare" but that Peterson is "fine now."