- Jane McManus, Reporter & Columnist, espnW.com
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"The treatment has been working," Sanchez said after practice. "I felt better than the two prior and I'm going to be ready to play on Sunday."
Jets coach Rex Ryan said he was pleased with Sanchez's improvement since Thursday. A person familiar with the situation Saturday morning said that Sanchez is feeling fine -- and will start on Sunday.
"We think he's going to be right around 100 percent for the game," Ryan said.
Sanchez spent a lot of time windmilling his right arm on Friday, but the throws he did make had power that he has lacked in the past two days of practice. The quarterback, who fell and injured his shoulder against the Steelers last Sunday, has been limited this week. He threw tentatively on Thursday, which concerned Ryan.
"I had those thoughts that that's not NFL caliber," Ryan said Friday. "So today I think we all saw that he was zipping it, and I think he sent a message to all of us that he was ready to go."
Sanchez has technically been limited all three days of practice this week, and is listed as probable to start. Wide receiver Santonio Holmes, who is listed as probable and will play Sunday despite a turf toe injury sustained last week, said that there was no doubt Sanchez was starting, as he showed in Friday's practice that he was ready.
"He felt great," Holmes said. "He was on point. He had a couple of bad throws here and there, wasn't trusting himself [and] didn't get into the feel until midway through practice but other than that he felt great. He threw after practice and I think it's all going to be fine."
On Thursday, Ryan seemed a bit stunned when he announced Sanchez's setback, saying he had been too optimistic about Sanchez's condition on Wednesday, when he said that Sanchez would have been ready to go if he had needed to play that day.
Sanchez wanted to make clear that things are back to normal.
"It felt good, really good," Sanchez said Friday. "I felt better than yesterday and I warmed up well. I threw it just like I did the week before and throughout the season."
Wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery said the cold at the Jets' Florham Park facility meant that Sanchez needed to warm up continuously.
"Any time it's cold like this it takes you some time to get warm if you have any kinds of muscle strains or anything of that nature," Cotchery said. "But he did a good job today."
His teammates said they had no doubt Sanchez would start.
"I'm almost 100 percent sure he's going to be playing," tight end Dustin Keller said. "He threw the ball real well today."
"To me he looked like he always looked -- he looked good, so I think he's ready to go," running back Shonn Greene said. "I think it's 100 percent ready to go."
The stakes could not be higher for the team. If the Jets win in Chicago, they are in the playoffs.
"We know what's at stake and we know what it takes to win on the road," linebacker Bart Scott said.
As for whether the speculation that the team might have had to start Mark Brunell at quarterback was a concern, Holmes smiled and said that's not going to happen.
"It doesn't matter," Holmes said. "We all know what's going on in here so whatever Rex tells you guys, that's for you guys to handle, but as far as us knowing we figure he's playing."
In other Jets injury news, safety Eric Smith is doubtful with a concussion, but Ryan said Smith will make the trip to Chicago. Tackle Damien Woody is out with a knee injury. Defensive end Trevor Pryce is out with a hip injury and won't make the trip. Safety James Ihedigbo (knee and ankle) is questionable, but Ryan said he will play.
Jane McManus is a reporter and columnist for ESPNNewYork.com. ESPN.com senior NFL writer John Clayton and ESPNNewYork.com's Rich Cimini contributed to this report.
Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez and his injured throwing shoulder looked better in Friday's practice.