- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A big green and white sign greeted Mark Sanchez as he drove up to the New York Jets‘ training facility for the first time in months.

And, boy, was it a pleasant sight.

“Welcome Back!” it blared in block letters, followed by “Here Come The Jets.”

“It was wonderful,” Sanchez said with a big smile Tuesday. “Now we’re back and we can start playing, so it’s good.”

The gates were up, facilities were open all around the league and NFL players finally went to work.

Now, they need to get ready for the season in a hurry.

“It’s good to be back, get everything over with and just come back and feel welcome again,” said Brett Swain of the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers. “Get back in the roll of things and get camp started.”

After a lockout that lasted 4 1/2 months ended Monday with an agreement between the NFL and its players, teams’ facilities were buzzing with activity Tuesday.

During the lockout, the Tennessee Titans had a chain around their closed front gate to keep players out. That chain was gone and the front gate wide open as rookie quarterback Jake Locker, the No. 8 pick overall in April, and quarterbacks Rusty Smith and Brett Ratliff were among the first to arrive.

“It is nice to drive by and not have the lock on the gate and actually get a friendly smile when you come in here,” left tackle Michael Roos said.

Players all around the league were allowed back in to meet with coaches, work out, take physicals and receive playbooks _ among other things.

“I came for the free lunch,” quipped Washington Redskins receiver Anthony Armstrong.

Teams were already starting a feeding frenzy on their drafted players and undrafted free agents, and were allowed to start negotiating with free agents in what will likely be a flurry of activity the league has never seen. Players such as Nnamdi Asomugha and Santonio Holmes will soon find out where they’re going _ or staying _ as free agency began.

“With this whole free agency opening up, it’s going to be crazy,” Redskins quarterback John Beck said at the team’s facility in Ashburn, Va. “Our team’s going to look different.”

Washington has several free agents to address this summer, including Santana Moss, Rex Grossman, Carlos Rogers and Rocky McIntosh. Oh, and there’s also the murky statuses of Donovan McNabb and Albert Haynesworth to deal with.

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