Jets QB Sanchez attends White House dinner, brings LT Ferguson

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Mark Sanchez expects a return visit to the White House. And next time, he's bringing the rest of his New York Jets teammates.

The second-year Jets quarterback was back at practice on a limited basis Thursday, one day after meeting President Barack Obama in Washington D.C. Sanchez attended the state dinner Wednesday night with teammate D'Brickashaw Ferguson.

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"I knew we were scoping out this territory and we're coming back in February (as Super Bowl champions)," Sanchez said. "That's in the back of your head. Now, Brick and I will know where to go, so we'll just lead guys around and throw in a tour."

The state dinner was the first hosted by President Obama and his wife, Michelle, since November, and it was held in honor of Mexico President Felipe Calderon and his wife, Margarita Zavala.

"This is numero uno," Ferguson said when asked where the dinner ranked among his experiences. "You meet one of the most powerful men in the world, and it humbles you."

Sanchez said he kept the menu and nametag from the dinner, as did Ferguson. The Jets quarterback, who's of Mexican descent, also was surprised when he walked through the welcome line and Mexico's First Lady approached him.

"She had a Sanchez jersey and pulled it out of her purse," Sanchez said, laughing. "It was pretty funny. Everyone was taken aback and was like, 'Wow.' It was pretty special."

Sanchez said he was razzed by some of his other offensive linemen after picking Ferguson, his left tackle, to accompany him.

"I figured Obama, Calderon, Brick, Sanchez -- a Mexican, a black guy," Sanchez said with a big grin. "No, I'm just kidding. I know Brick's into politics. He looks like a governor or something. It just felt right to take a teammate and someone who'd be interested. He was definitely that, and he had a great time."

Right tackle Damien Woody jokingly said the rest of his linemates were jealous of Ferguson.

"Yeah, now we really know what he thinks of his right tackle right now," Woody said of Sanchez. "He took his left tackle and jetted down there. Nah, it's great, man. It's like a once-in-a-lifetime type of deal."

Woody added that he already has been to the White House a few times as a member of the Super Bowl-winning New England Patriots.

"He didn't let any of the guys know that this was going to happen," Woody said. "So, we were kind of giving him a little stuff, like, 'Hey, you didn't share this with your comrades?' Maybe it was a national security deal."

Back on the field after arriving back home around 3 a.m., Sanchez looked comfortable throwing in 7-on-7 drills. It's the third consecutive practice he has participated in since Monday, when organized team activities began.

Sanchez also participated in individual drills, but he wasn't part of team drills. The Jets are easing Sanchez back onto the field after he had surgery in February to repair the patella-stabilizing ligament in his left knee.

"I feel really good," Sanchez said. "The most important thing in our rehab is doing the same moves, like planting and throwing during the rehab with weight vests so I get used to it, get that strength back and trust my front leg when you step and throw."

Sanchez said he has asked every day to participate in the 11-on-11 team drills, but those requests immediately have been met with a stern, "No."

"I don't feel that comfortable right now," Jets coach Rex Ryan said. "I don't want to risk that right now because you've got bodies flying around. I think we just need to stay the course, and in due time, he'll be out there. We all know he's going to be ready to roll."

Sanchez said he understands and agrees with the team's cautious approach.

"It's just not worth taking a chance," Sanchez said. "What if somebody falls? What if I have to move too quickly and I'm not ready for it yet? It's not worth the risk."

Sanchez, who led the Jets to the AFC Championship Game as a rookie, recently began to run on grass after being limited to jogging in a pool, then on a treadmill. He has said he hoped to return in time to fully participate by minicamp in June, but he would be 100 percent by training camp this summer.

"I do know that I'm getting better every day and I haven't had any regression," Sanchez said. "That's huge. If on one of these first couple of days, this thing swells up and shuts down my quad, then we have a problem, but it hasn't done that yet. If we keep progressing, I'm optimistic."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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