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Jets' Ryan gives Brunell first-team reps; Sanchez disapproves

It's no secret that Mark Sanchez has been, well, not awful, but definitely very mediocre at best this season. Yet, every step of the way, Jets coach Rex Ryan has tirelessly defended his quarterback.

But if Sanchez thought that meant he could remain comfortable as the starter, he'd better think again.

Ryan revealed Tuesday that he has given some first-team reps to veteran backup Mark Brunell this week -- not very many, just a few -- but Sanchez apparently is angry enough about it that he's giving his coach the silent treatment.

"For real. He has not said one word (to me)," Ryan said in his news conference. "He probably knows what I'm doing. I know Mark Sanchez extremely well. ... If it takes me to do this, and take a punch in the nose, I don't care. I'll take it. But we got to have it from him. He's the guy. He's my guy. And we have to have it from him."

Ryan was smiling and laughing while at the podium, but Sanchez clearly wasn't amused as he spoke to reporters in the locker room. The expression on his face said it all.

"That's the coach's decision," Sanchez said. "I'm just controlling what I can, and that's trying to improve, make better decisions with the football and taking the reps I have and doing well with them."

You'll recall that Ryan did this last season, leading up to a Week 15 game against the Steelers, hoping to motivate his struggling quarterback. After that victory in Pittsburgh, Sanchez said he wanted to fight his coach for pulling the stunt.

And if Sanchez feels that way again?

"If he wants to beat me up, that's fine," Ryan said, "as long as we have the same success coming out of it. ...

"I don't think it really matters, but for some reason, he got a little hot under the collar (last season) and gave that super competitive fighting spirit that we know he has. It seems to work."

Whether or not that's the case this time, we'll find out Sunday. But let's suppose it doesn't, and Sanchez struggles again in a loss to the reeling Bills at home, dropping the Jets to 5-6. What then?

New York holds its breath.

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