Sanchez back, will start for Jets vs. Falcons

Mark Sanchez will start for the New York Jets against the Atlanta

Falcons after missing one game with a sprained posterior cruciate

ligament in his right knee.

Coach Rex Ryan said the rookie quarterback was medically

cleared by team doctors after practicing three straight days.

Sanchez took all of the snaps with the first-team offense Friday

after taking 75 percent of them Thursday.

“We went into practice thinking he would be fine, so he was

going to get 100 percent of the reps,” Ryan said. “After talking

with the doctors, they felt great. … Mark feels strong. I asked

him again, ‘Do you feel strong?’ and he said, ‘Yeah, absolutely.”‘

Sanchez missed the Jets’ 26-3 victory last Sunday at Tampa

Bay after injuring the knee against Buffalo on Dec. 3, and was

replaced by Kellen Clemens. He returned to practice Wednesday and

experienced no setbacks during the week.

Sanchez will wear custom-fitted braces on both knees; he had

already been wearing one on the left from a previous injury.

“It’s going to be a Joe Namath throwback game for Mark,” Ryan

said. “He slid right in front of me in practice to make sure I knew

he was ready to go. He feels confident. He threw the ball really

well today. He’s ready to go.”

Ryan said the Jets also are preparing Sanchez for his first

game in wintry weather. It’s expected to be snowy with

near-freezing temperatures at the Meadowlands on Sunday.

“We put some of the UGG boot stuff in his helmet, so he’s

going to be warmer,” Ryan said, referring to the wool-lined

footwear. “I’m not kidding. Look at his helmet. He’s got some of

that in there. We try to make sure our guys are comfortable and

healthy and protected.”

Ryan isn’t concerned about how Sanchez, from Southern

California, will fare in the cold and potentially messy conditions.

“He’s got big hands, which I think you have to have in

cold-weather games,” Ryan said. “In really bad-weather games, if

it’s raining, you need the big hands to zip the ball. He can throw

it, so he’ll be just fine.”

Notes: C Nick Mangold missed his second straight day of

practice with an illness and is listed as questionable, but Ryan

said he’s going to play Sunday. … OL Robert Turner (left knee) is

out, while CB Dwight Lowery (high right ankle sprain) is probable

after missing the last three games.