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Schwartz: Plaxico Burress’ Return The Big Story For Jets-Bengals

(credit: AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

(credit: AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

schwartz_feature Peter Schwartz
Peter joined the WFAN staff in August of 2009 as an update anchor...
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By Peter Schwartz
» More Columns

More times than not, a preseason game carries very few storylines with it.

But Sunday’s contest between the Jets and Bengals has a big one — the expected return to the field of WR Plaxico Burress. He last played in the NFL for the Giants on November 23, 2008 against the Cardinals in Arizona.

Later that week, Burress would shoot himself in the leg at a New York City nightclub. He then served a 20-month jail sentence and missed the 2009 and 2010 NFL seasons.

Three weeks ago, on the eve of training camp, he signed a one-year deal with the Jets. After suffered a sprained left ankle, Burress missed most of camp and the pre-season opener against the Texans.

This week, he returned to practice and is ready to roll.

“I don’t see why I shouldn’t be a full-go,” said Burress. My goal is to be out there and go as many reps as they let me. I don’t know what that number is going to be until Rex tells me how much I’m going to play.”

Can Burress pull off this comeback after missing almost three years of action?

Time will tell, but there’s no questioning the confidence of the man who caught the game-winning touchdown for the Giants in Super Bowl XLII.

He says go ahead and doubt him because he knows what he’s capable of.

“Everybody expects (a drop-off because) I’ve been away for two years, and I just turned 34 and all those things,” said Burress. “None of those things matter to me. I believe that I’m still one of the best out there competing and I’m not going to lose that mindset. I’m going to go out and my mindset is to dominate one-on-one and that’s what I’ve been pretty much doing throughout my career and I’m not going to stop that mindset now.”

When Burress last played in the NFL, he called the Meadowlands home — but that was at Giants Stadium. In 2008, the New Meadowlands Stadium was being constructed and now it’s the new home of the Jets and Giants, while Giants Stadium was demolished and is now a parking lot.

Burress is eager to see his new playground.

“I haven’t seen it but I have heard it’s absolutely fabulous,” said Burress. “I am looking forward to going and seeing all the amenities if you will, different things like that. I hear it is just a little bit better than Giants Stadium, just a little bit, but I heard its pretty good and I am looking forward to it.”

Whether its New Meadowlands Stadium, Giants Stadium, or any other facility in the NFL, the most important thing for Burress is that he’s going to run through the tunnel and onto the field for an NFL game for the first time in a long time.

For Burress, that’s a big first step after having plenty of time to think about his mistake while he was behind bars.

IT AIN’T EASY BEING GREENE

Jets running back Shonn Greene has certainly had his share of injury issues during his brief NFL career.

And now, he’s sidelined again.

This time, it’s because of a low-grade skin infection in his right foot that will keep him out of Sunday’s game. Because the infection was caught quickly, it will be treated with antibiotics.

LaDainian Tomlinson will likely start but expect a heavy dose of 4th round pick Bilal Powell, who has enjoyed a terrific camp and played very well in Houston.

JETS-BENGALS PRESEASON NOTES

This will be the 8th preseason meeting between the Jets and Bengals with Gang Green holding a 4-3 edge. The last meeting was on August 10th, 2003 at Giants Stadium when the Jets prevailed 28-13.

The Jets are looking for their 15th straight pre-season with a non-losing record. The last time that Gang Green had a losing exhibition schedule was in 1996 when they were 1-3. Since 1997, the Jets have had two perfect pre-seasons going 4-0 in both 1997 and 2002.

A LEGRAND DAY AT FLORHAM PARK

On Thursday, the Jets welcomed former Rutgers DL Eric LeGrand to training camp. Paralyzed in a game last year, Legrand was invited by his former Scarlet Knights teammate Jamaal Westerman.

“I think one of the coaches mentioned it last year around the time that he got hurt playing,” said Westerman. “Whenever he gets able to move around and come out and stuff, if he wants to come out to practice, just let him know. (Defensive Coordinator) Mike Pettine just said let him know when he wants to come out, he’s more than welcome. Just make sure it’s a practice where we’re having an actual practice, not a walk-thru or anything like that.”

LeGrand also had the chance to meet LB Bart Scott, who is donating proceeds from the sale of his “Can’t Wait” t-shirts to Legrand’s foundation that is helping pay medical bills.

For Scott, LeGrand’s story hit home and decided to put his project to good use.

“If I’m going to make t-shirts, let’s make them about something,” said Scott. “Let’s do it for a worthy cause. My charity, A Son Never Forgets, has always been geared towards paraplegics and quadriplegics due to my cousin who got shot. Four years ago is when I started it. I’ve always done a lot of charity work with Johns Hopkins and their therapy group down there. I just looked at it as an opportunity.”

LeGrand has made significant progress in his rehab and can stand for as long as 45 minutes.

“Everything is going well,” said LeGrand. “I just have to keep on standing up for at least a half-an-hour, so I can get my body on this locomotive training mat. It serves as a treadmill that they put these stems on. A therapist is behind you and you’re in a harness and they just basically retrain your legs how to walk again.”

Listen to LeGrand’s press conference here…

LeGrand has been an inspiration to many because of his positive attitude during his ordeal. Keeping the faith is the only way that LeGrand knows how to deal with it.

“It’s just the way I was basically built,” said LeGrand. “I believe it’s just the only way to go through life. You can’t get mad at what happens to you. Things happen, so the only way to get better is to be positive and just fight through it because if you’re negative, then you’re just going to go right down the drain.”

After practice, LeGrand joined the Jets on the field where he was presented with his own Jets No. 52 jersey.

Somehow I think that David Harris was okay with that.

That’s all for now, enjoy the game. Check back on Monday for more!

Will the Jets’ offensive line improve against the Bengals? Make your prediction in the comments below…