— Mark Sanchez arrived at Philadelphia Eagles training camp last week amid a great deal of valid questions regarding his ability, confidence and physical condition. After just three days of practice, he seems to have eliminated them all.
The backup quarterback's throws are crisper and more accurate than they were in the offseason minicamps. His decisions are quicker and his results are a lot more satisfying.
According to Sanchez, it's simply because he's all the way back from the shoulder injury that wrecked last season before it began, landing him in the operating room and on the injured reserve list of the New York Jets, who released him in March.
"It's been a long road to recovery," he said after Monday's public practice at Lincoln Financial Field, "but it feels good. I feel great. I don't even second-guess throws anymore. I think during [organized team activities] I was still feeling things out.
"Mentally, I felt good, but physically I definitely wasn't all the way there. Now the ball is jumping out of my hand. I feel great."
Both Sanchez and Matt Barkley, who succeeded him as the University of Southern California's starting quarterback and now is competing with him for the Eagles' backup job behind Nick Foles, have displayed mastery of this offense after many shaky and downright alarming moments just one month earlier.
Although coach Chip Kelly before practice pointed out that many of those perceived poor throws and faulty decisions were not what they appeared on the surface.
"A lot of times, I think people make misconceptions walking into practice where they say, 'Hey, the receiver missed that one,' " Kelly said. "… Well, a lot of times it's the receiver's fault. They are not where they are supposed to be. You think the guy is running a corner route, he breaks on a post and the quarterback throws the ball to the corner, and you're saying, `He didn't throw the ball in the right spot.' Well, the receiver may not have run the right route."
Kelly actually was responding to a question about the improvement shown by Barkley in which it was theorized that he's throwing with better velocity than he did in the spring and a year ago, when he also was coming off a shoulder injury that ruined his senior year at USC. That knocked him from a potential first-round pick into the top of the fourth round, where the Eagles moved up via trade to get him with the 98th overall pick.
Barkley also has seemed to put a pair of dubious relief performances last season behind him, the way Sanchez is following a career decline that began after going to the AFC Championship Game as a starter in each of his first two seasons.
Sanchez has thrown more career interceptions (69) than touchdowns (68), has completed just 55.1 percent of his passes and owns a career QB rating of 71.7. Yet Kelly views him as more than a competent alternative if something should happen to Foles.
To Sanchez's credit, he is starting to show why Kelly signed him immediately after his release from the Jets, as if all the other teams in the NFL already were lined up to beat the Eagles to the punch.
"It's coming like second nature now," Sanchez said. "… I think the way our quarterback room works so well, especially with Nick and Matt and G.J. [Kinne] all being in the system, it's easy for me to push myself, because I know they were ahead when I got here. They had heard all this stuff before. So I had to really catch up quick.
"So now I feel like we're all speaking the same language and we're all helping each other out."
Sanchez is playing like a veteran quarterback with nothing to lose, which can only help him in his quest to resurrect his career and get a starting job again somewhere else, if it doesn't happen here. He's on a one-year contract.
"I've done all the team stuff, we've done all the scrimmaging, two-minute drills, throwing on the run," Sanchez said. "I have no hesitation, no apprehension. Just, `Let's go.' "
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