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Playoff spot in hand, Jets' Sanchez may sit in the finale

New York Jets coach Rex Ryan was unsure Wednesday whether he would play starting quarterback Mark Sanchez against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

Sanchez has been playing with a sore shoulder for several weeks.

"I want him to make sure he has his routine in place, but also don't want him to get hurt," Ryan told Buffalo media on a conference call. "There's a fine line. We're working through it. I'm kinda leaning on him playing. How much he plays I'm not sure."

Sanchez was limited in practice on Wednesday and hedged on his status.

"I'm glad I'm not a head coach," Sanchez said. "I don't know. I always want to play. I like practicing; I like playing. That's all I think about. I love doing it and I just want to be smart with my shoulder."

Sanchez has played well the last two games. But the Jets (10-5) have already wrapped up a postseason berth. They will have either the fifth or sixth seed in the AFC playoffs.

"If we don't think he is 100 percent or right at it, then no, I'd have a tough time playing him," Ryan said.

Ryan said there is no way Sanchez would play the entire game, even if he is able to start. Mark Brunell, 40, would start if Sanchez can't go. Kellen Clemens is the No. 3 QB, and he may well see some action, as well.

The Jets are likely to be conservative about how long they use other key players. Starting defensive end Shaun Ellis (lower back), and starting right tackle Damien Woody (knee) did not practice. Woody has missed the last two games. Starters who were limited in practice were: safety Eric Smith (concussion), cornerbacks Darrelle Revis (hamstring) and Antonio Cromartie (groin), and nose tackle Sione Pouha (back). Backup defensive end Trevor Pryce (hip) was limited.

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Fred Jackson was named the Bills' Walter Payton Man of the Year. The award honors players who demonstrate outstanding balance in their lives between civic and professional responsibilities. Jackson is among the team's most active participants in community programs. He's a member of the Bills' community ticket program. He provides more than 20 tickets each game to enable guests from Carly's Club to see the Bills play. Carly's Club is Roswell Park's family-centered support group for young patients. He has supported the Kids Escaping Drugs program. He has made numerous visits to public schools in Western New York. He has supported the NFL's "Play 60" initiative, which promotes fitness and a healthy lifestyle among young people.

"A lot of people in the community like to see that we're just regular people," Jackson said. "I think that's the best thing we can do. We have a great opportunity to play in this game. We have an opportunity to reach out and touch a lot of people. I think a lot of people on this team feel that way. For me to be named that guy is a special thing."

"Anytime I can help kids, I want to be a part of it," Jackson said. "That's what I was doing before I got in the NFL, was working with kids."

Jackson will receive $1,000 from NFL Charities to give to the charity of his choice. He is eligible for the NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year award.

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Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick sat out practice to rest his body. He was walking with a slight limp, but both he and coach Chan Gailey said he would be fine. He's expected to practice today.

"I feel OK," Fitzpatrick said. "Just the typical stuff at the end of the year. Some bumps and bruises and nicks."

Gailey indicated giving No. 2 QB Brian Brohm a chance to play just to see what he might do is not part of the plan this week.

"If it comes to that I don't have a problem with it, but the objective is to win the game, and Ryan gives us the best chance to win the game. So it's all hands on deck to win the game."

Bills center Geoff Hangartner was limited in practice. Gailey said Hangartner has a chance to play "in some fashion" Sunday.

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Bills receiver Stevie Johnson took his omission from the AFC Pro Bowl roster in stride. Johnson ranks fifth in catches and sixth in receiving yards in the AFC. Four receivers made the Pro Bowl. "I didn't feel bad at all because the guys that made it, you could see it on film. They deserved it. They balled out, too. Their numbers were higher than mine. I don't think I was robbed of anything or snubbed. Those guys performed. It's pretty basic."

e-mail: mgaughan@buffnews.com

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