"You're going to ask questions, if he's definitely going to start," Ryan said. "I'm not willing to say that right now. I'm optimistic about it. I'll have a great idea (Friday), I think, when I meet with the medical staff."
Sanchez, who's recovering from a sprained right knee, had no swelling or stiffness and was a full participant in practice after being limited Wednesday.
"He looked much better today than he even did yesterday," Ryan said. "I thought he was more confident today. He looked OK yesterday. Again, I want to make sure that he's definitely ready to play in a National Football League game."
"I just want to make sure he feels fine in the morning," said Ryan, who added that he wants to be patient and sure Sanchez is 100 percent.
Sanchez, showing no signs of a limp Thursday, wore a custom-made brace on his right knee, as well as the left knee, which was previously injured. Ryan said he believed Sanchez, who jokingly said he "looked like Forrest Gump," would wear both braces if he plays against the Falcons.
"I want to wait it out, but again, it's more the medical opinions than my own opinions," Ryan said. "I'm not going to sit back and say, 'Hey, he's fine.' I'd like to say that, but I think it's probably in the kid's best interest and our team's best interest that our medical staff agrees with that."
Ryan added that the cold and snowy conditions expected at the Meadowlands on Sunday wouldn't have any impact on whether Sanchez would play.
Sanchez spent last week rehabilitating at the Jets' facility. He said he believed he could play against the Bucs and was upset by Ryan's decision, although he understood it, and didn't travel with the team to Tampa Bay.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press