Burress eager to play against Giants

New York Jets wide receiver Plaxico Burress catches New York Jets wide receiver Plaxico Burress catches a pass for a touchdown in front of Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha. (Dec. 18, 2011) Photo Credit: AP

advertisement | advertise on newsday

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Plaxico Burress plans on having a smile as wide as the Hudson River come Sunday morning, and it's not because he's sure that Santa will leave a bevy of goodies under his Christmas tree.

"Being able to play in this kind of game on Christmas Eve," the wide receiver said Wednesday, "you know somebody's going to wake up with a bittersweet Christmas. And it's not going to be me."

Not if he has the kind of game against his old team that he's envisioning.

"I definitely want to get in the end zone once, twice, maybe three or four," Burress said. "I'm going to try to play lights-out football. My goal is to go out and play the best game I've played to this date, this season, from a personal standpoint."

Burress, who's battling a chest cold and was limited in practice Wednesday, has had his eyes on this game ever since he inked a one-year, $3.017 million deal with the Jets in August, spurning the Giants in the process. He spent four seasons with the Giants and caught 33 touchdown passes from Eli Manning, including the game-winner in their stunning Super Bowl XLII victory over the Patriots.

The Giants released Burress four months after his November 2008 self-shooting in a nightclub, which led to a 20-month prison sentence for a weapons violation. He remains tight with several Giants, such as Aaron Ross, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora, and he speaks with Brandon Jacobs once or twice a week.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

"I get a chance to play against my old boys," Burress said. "Being in the situation that we're in, it's a great setting. You couldn't have it any better. This is what playing in New York is all about. This city, the people that are involved and both teams' backs are against the wall . . .

"If you like to compete and this is your kind of game, you love to be in this kind of opportunity and show everybody what you're made of."

The Giants surely are aware of what Burress is made of, even if he is in the midst of his least productive three-game stretch as a pro. Burress has only four catches for 42 yards and a touchdown in his last three games.

"We know a lot about Plaxico," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "He knows a lot about us. We know the way people prefer to utilize his talents and his ability. He is also a good blocker."

"I see the same kind of red zone threat that he has always been," Coughlin added. "He has made some spectacular catches, the one down in Philadelphia, and he has had a couple more of those kinds of catches. He has certainly done an outstanding job there and not just there, in other spots as well."

Jacobs hasn't noticed any dropoff in Burress' skills, either.

"Plaxico really is a dangerous weapon," the running back said. "It's hard to have the talent like that, that makes him as dangerous as he can be. The way things are going now, he's in a situation where he's got to make the playoffs. How he's going to come out and play I have no idea, but I do know that he wants this game just as badly as I do.

"It'd definitely mean a lot to him."

Burress has been playing the role of double agent this week, doing his best to offer as much insight into the Giants' inner workings. Three years removed, he continues to be quite familiar with some of their schemes and tendencies.

"That's the thing that's impressive, that he still remembers a lot of things that they did, calls, things like that," offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said. "He's even had some plays that he's brought up that he used to run and he used to have success with."

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Burress is uncertain if his future with the Jets will extend beyond this season, so there's a possibility this could be his final Jets-Giants tilt.

"It's a business first," he said. "I don't know if they want me back or not. I don't know what that may be. I'm just going to go about it as business as usual. I'm going to go out and do my best in football games. We have to go out and win these football games if we want to even start talking about those types of things."

With Tom Rock

You also may be interested in: