NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Still searching for the end zone, the Jets might have their top wide receiver back on Sunday.

Santonio Holmes could return this weekend for the team’s game against Carolina after a few injuries sidelined him for New York’s first two preseason games. He says his bruised ribs, tightness in his back and hamstring issue – all on his left side – are “clearing up.”

“I feel pretty confident that I can come back and play this week,” Holmes said after practice Thursday. “I’ve been working a lot extra, overtime with these guys treatment-wise and they are doing a really good job trying to get me back on the field.”

Holmes, wearing a red no-contact jersey Thursday for the third straight day, ran some routes with the first-team offense.

“We got a mix of a little Santonio again out there today,” quarterback Mark Sanchez said. “It just felt like things started to click again.”

He hasn’t been a full participant at practice since injuring a rib in the team’s scrimmage in Cortland on Aug. 4. Coach Rex Ryan initially feared that the rib was broken and Holmes might potentially miss the rest of the preseason.

“I’m good,” he said. “I would say I am ready to roll, but I know the trainers wouldn’t like to hear that from me right about now. I’ve got to take it one day at a time. I can’t push it too early right now and just wait and see.”

The Jets have missed Holmes, their No. 1 receiver, as they have failed to score a touchdown in two preseason games. Jeremy Kerley (hamstring) and Chaz Schilens (ankle) have also been unable to play because of injuries.

“It’s the preseason,” he said. “Last I checked, it counts in September, and I think our guys will get the ball rolling come September.”

Holmes thinks it would be good for him to play against the Panthers “to get the speed back up and get the feel of the game, try to get my wind back.” But, he doesn’t think he and Sanchez have lost any of their chemistry.

“I think Mark just misses smiling at me on the field,” Holmes said with a big grin. “Come practice days, he does it all the time. I think that’s what really gets us going, once we start our meetings and practices for the day. I’m excited, just as well as the guys are, to see me back on the field, but we have got to take it one step at a time, make sure we don’t have any setbacks come September.”

The Jets open the regular season at home on Sept. 9 against the Buffalo Bills, and have been very basic in their approach to the first two preseason games. The wildcat-style offense with Tim Tebow has yet to be unveiled during a game, and Ryan said he doesn’t expect it to be until the regular season.

“I think everything you’ve pretty much seen is how we’re going to come out this season, but the attention to detail is going to have to be a lot better than what it has been,” Holmes said. “The things that we’re going to do this season, why give everyone a clue right now? Leave them all guessing, show it on Sunday when it really counts and we’ll just punch them in the mouth from there.”

If Holmes returns, how much time should he get on the field? Be heard in the comments below…

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