FLORHAM PARK, N.J. » Mark Sanchez is bracing himself for the rest of his career.
The New York Jets quarterback will wear a protective brace on his surgically repaired left knee "probably forever" to guard against future injuries after a scare in the preseason game against Carolina last Saturday.
"I really want to wear it," Sanchez said sarcastically yesterday. "No, we’ve been joking back and forth. I think I kind of lucked out the other night."
During the Jets’ 9-3 win at Carolina, a Panthers player almost rolled into the franchise quarterback’s knee.
"I had him put the brace on after I saw that thing," coach Rex Ryan said. "It was close. He couldn’t step up and the guy’s helmet was here. I was like, ‘That’s enough.’ That’s why he’s putting it on."
Sanchez had the patella-stabilizing ligament in his left knee repaired in February and had been wearing a sleeve over it during camp. He has worn a brace in most games since dislocating his knee cap before his junior season at Southern California.
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"It’s not even worth having other problems," Sanchez said. "My knee feels great It’s just a precautionary thing."
Okung has ankle sprain
Sixth-overall draft pick Russell Okung has a high right ankle sprain, putting the key position of left tackle in flux for the Seattle Seahawks heading into the regular season.
The Seahawks are pushing ahead with backup plans of having either Mansfield Wrotto, a backup guard, or recuperating Chester Pitts protect quarterback Matt Hasselbeck’s blind side to begin the season.
Mangold signs big deal
New York Jets center Nick Mangold became the highest-paid player at his position yesterday, signing a seven-year deal with the New York Jets that could be worth up to $55 million.
The deal includes more than $22 million in guarantees against injury, a person with knowledge of the contract told the Associated Press. The person requested anonymity because the team did not announce details of the deal.
McNabb ruled out
A sprained ankle will keep Donovan McNabb on the sideline Friday night when the Redskins play the New York Jets.
McNabb has been unable to practice since getting hurt in Saturday night’s preseason loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
"It’s quite sore," coach Mike Shanahan said, "and I don’t think he could go if it was a regular-season game. He’s got to rehab it."
Rice has hip surgery
The Minnesota Vikings will play the first half of the season — or more — without Pro Bowl receiver Sidney Rice, who had hip surgery this week.
Coach Brad Childress said yesterday that Rice had the procedure in Vail, Colo., on Monday night. He couldn’t give a specific timetable for Rice’s return, but said typically it takes about eight weeks before a player can even get back to practice, let alone game action.
"I would think (it will take) probably at least eight weeks before we’re talking about doing anything," Childress said.
Holliday out for season
Houston Texans rookie kick returner Trindon Holliday is gone for the season.
Coach Gary Kubiak says Holliday will have surgery today on his broken left thumb. Holliday had been wearing a cast on the thumb in recent practices.
Holliday fumbled a punt and mishandled a kickoff return in the Texans’ 38-20 loss to New Orleans on Saturday. Kubiak blamed Holliday’s miscues on his injured thumb.
Holliday is the second Texans’ draft pick to suffer a season-ending injury during training camp. Running back Ben Tate, a second-round pick out of Auburn, broke his ankle in Houston’s first preseason game.
Broncos release Ayodele
The Denver Broncos have juggled their lineup, releasing nine-year veteran Akin Ayodele and moving Mario Haggan back inside.
Replacing Haggan at outside linebacker opposite Robert Ayers is Jarvis Moss. Neither Ayers nor Moss registered a single sack last year, when Elvis Dumervil led the league with 17.
Haggan practiced all summer at the "mike" position but was moved outside after Dumervil tore a pectoral muscle early in training camp that will sideline him at least until December.
Clausen plays with pain
Carolina Panthers backup quarterback Jimmy Clausen returned to practice yesterday after missing a day with a sore right big toe, an ailment the former Notre Dame star expects to linger throughout his rookie season.
Clausen underwent surgery in January to replace two torn tendons after being injured early last season against Michigan State. Clausen said yesterday the toe "feels good some days and sore other days" and it’s especially painful after games.