Mark Sanchez and JaMarcus Russell are making strides in their Southern California training with former Pro Bowl quarterback Jeff Garcia, who is helping the two resurrect careers at different crossroads.

New York Jets coach Rex Ryan said during the NFL owners' meetings earlier this month that while Sanchez will get the first snap during May organized team activities -- ahead of David Garrard, Greg McElroy, Tim Tebow and Matt Simms -- the competition for the Jets' starting job is wide open.

"Clearly we have to improve at the quarterback position,'' Ryan said.

To that end, three days a week for the past several weeks, first in the classroom and now on the field, Sanchez is downloading the West Coast offense from Garcia. The 12-year NFL veteran played in San Francisco and Philadelphia for Sanchez's newest offensive coordinator, Marty Mornhinweg.

"He's doing an excellent job -- the progress Mark has made over the past three weeks is definitely very positive,'' Garcia told USA TODAY Sports. "It shows Mark is committed to bettering himself and getting himself more mentally prepared.

"The most important thing for Mark is to take that tough season last year as a learning experience from the standpoint of how he can get better and give his team the best chance to win. That has to be done in terms of being confident in his ability to run this system and speak the language correctly.

"So now when he takes the field in OTAs, he'll be in that much more comfortable of a place," Garcia added.