NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — Jets coach Rex Ryan got a real, hard look on Wednesday at Plaxico Burress practicing alongside wide receivers Santonio Holmes and Derrick Mason.
Let’s just say Ryan was pleased with what he saw.
“It looks scary,” Ryan said. “You have that group out there and then you have Dustin (Keller) at your tight end and either Shonn Greene or (LaDainian Tomlinson) in the backfield — that’s what we’ve been waiting for.”
Early on, Burress reached out and grabbed a pass for a short gain, his first reception in team drills since signing with the Jets.
And, boy, did it feel good.
“I think it went pretty well,” Burress said. “It feels like football and it felt great. It was pretty much everything I expected to feel, just to get back out there and kind of get in a groove and participate in every drill.”
Burress participated in about a dozen team drills after being limited by a sprained left ankle. He also made a nice one-handed grab along the sideline during 1-on-1 drills.
“I just feel from here, I’ll try to increase the reps day in and day out,” he said, “and just keep putting the practices together, and just see what happens.”
Ryan was so happy with what he saw, he declared that Burress will see action in the team’s next preseason game against Cincinnati on Sunday.
“I think he’ll be in there,” Ryan said. “Without question, I think he’ll be in there.”
Burress worked with the first-team offense during 11-on-11 drills, his first significant practice action since signing with the Jets on July 31 after serving 20 months in prison on a gun charge.
“I don’t see why I shouldn’t be full go (Sunday),” Burress said.
The wide receiver rolled the ankle while running routes with Holmes two weeks ago. It was believed to be a minor injury, but the swelling was slow to subside and the Jets sent Burress for an MRI exam, which revealed what he called “a classic tweak, a classic sprain.”
The Jets’ doctors recommended Burress not fly with the team to Houston for its preseason opener because the altitude could affect the swelling. So, he stayed back and had constant treatment on the ankle to ensure he would be able to take the field Wednesday.
“I barely was able to watch the game with all the treatment they were giving me,” he said. “I mean, they had a notebook schedule. I was like, `This is pretty intense.’ I was getting treatment like every hour, every two hours. … “I’m walking around here half the day with a frozen ankle.”
Before Wednesday’s practice, Burress had only participated in four team drills, and none since last Monday. So, getting through this session was a significant step forward.
“I didn’t feel any limitations as far as me running and cutting,” he said. “I was doing just about everything that my mind was telling me to do, just react and not even thinking about the ankle. I was getting in and out of my breaks pretty good, the times that I had to make a play on the football I did. Like I said, I felt pretty normal.”
Ryan was a bit disappointed that Burress, covered most of the afternoon by Darrelle Revis or Antonio Cromartie, had only one pass thrown his way by Mark Sanchez.
“We’re going to try to throw it to the guy who’s open,” Ryan said. “Down and distance might’ve had something to do with it, but I was like you guys: `If he’s out there, let’s throw it to him.'”
Burress wasn’t complaining, though. After all, he has waited a long time for this.
“It’ll come,” he said. “This is only my first day. You can’t expect to see too much.”
Burress turned 34 last week and he knows many people doubt he can return to the elite level he was playing at before he accidentally shot himself in the leg at a Manhattan nightclub in 2008. He reiterated that he expects to be a game-changing receiver again.
First things first, though. And being able to play in a game, even in the preseason, would be the next major step in his comeback.
“As far as me running out (onto the field), it’s going to be one of those days that I’ve been looking forward to for a long time,” he said. “When we buckle it up and go out there on the football field and Mark is calling those plays in the huddle, I’m just so focused on the game and getting my job done that everything on the outside for that time doesn’t matter. I’m just going to enjoy it, play with a smile on my face, have fun.”
Notes: During its meeting Wednesday morning, the team took a few playful shots at Sanchez – the cover story for the September issue of GQ magazine. Center Nick Mangold made fun of Sanchez’s white pants in one photo, saying they were “a little suspect” and compared him to Joe Namath. Ryan also put up a “Tale of the Tape” which listed the coach’s record at 1,000-0. It was a jab at Sanchez’s comments that he “wanted to fight” Ryan when the coach suggested he’d bench him last season after some poor performances. “My keys to victory were ground and pound,” Ryan said with a smile. And Sanchez? “He’s a Jet, so he’s undefeated,” Ryan said, “but clearly not anywhere close to my (record).” Ryan added that he doesn’t expect to ever have to pull Sanchez from a game.
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