Sanchez on Wayne Hunter: "I've been there"

Mark Sanchez signalling for a timeout

Mark Sanchez came to the defense of his right tackle Wayne Hunter, who has been under scrutiny for his less than stellar performance the past couple of seasons.

Despite the New York Jets sluggish offense, Mark Sanchez is showing the leadership and fortitude that many fans were hoping to see from their franchise quarterback. In the wake of a first half shutout against the Giants, right tackle Wayne Hunter absorbed much of the blame for New York's inept pass blocking ability.

Both Tebow and Sanchez were under fire from the Giants' front four, who repeatedly flew through virtually unabated to the quarterback. Hunter has been anything but a fan favorite since taking over the starting role late in 2010, but Sanchez still gave his right tackle a vote of confidence, referencing the growing pains the former USC Trojan endured during his first couple of seasons in New York.

"I've been there," said Sanchez of Hunter's struggles. "I've had my share of games. Going into your fourth year, you have your share of games, especially my rookie year. There had to be times where guys on the team thought, "What are we doing with this guy?" There's no way. That stuff happens to everybody. I don't care who you are. All I can remember is the guys around me building me up, staying positive, having faith in me and being encouraging. That's exactly what I'm going to do to Wayne."

Sanchez isn't ready to sugarcoat the Jets troubles offensively; instead the fourth-year gunslinger completely understands the frustration and concern Jets' fans expressed following Saturday night's debacle.

"It's not a tangible thing, a number on the scoreboard right now, and that's a tough sell," admitted Sanchez. "It's a tough sell to fans, so I get that, remarked Sanchez. "I totally get that, but as a team we (have) to be concerned about what's going on in this building and I really do see us heading in the right direction."

In all actuality, preseason games don't accurately predict regular season and postseason success, but according to New York's No. 6 his approach is the same regardless of the situation.

"It's a competitive deal whether it's a walk-through, scrimmage, game or playoff game, remarked Sanchez. "We have to execute. We have to play well. Not having our starters at receiver is not an excuse for us. We have to play better than that and I know we can."

Gang Green is the only remaining team yet to score a touchdown this preseason period. The Jets are chomping at the bit to hang up sixes on the scoreboard, but they'll have to tighten up their execution prior to Sunday night's contest against the Carolina Panthers.

"There (are) just a couple things, just half-a-block here, half-a-second longer, a foot longer on the ball to PT and we (have) a chance, mentioned Sanchez. "That's how close this offense is. When it all happens at the same time, on the same night, or same game, it'll look good and we (have) to get there. We're really close, but we're running out of time here, so we (have) to get going."

Rick Laughland covers the New York Jets for

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