FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Although the Jets have officially listed Santonio Holmes as questionable for Sunday's season opener, they are hopeful that their top playmaker will be available to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
With Holmes back on the practice field Friday, albeit in a "limited" capacity, coach Rex Ryan and general manager John Idzik felt comfortable expressing optimism that Holmes, rehabbing from surgery to repair a Lisfranc injury in his left foot, will see his first game action in almost a year.
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Considering how tight-lipped the Jets have become in recent months, the fact that Ryan and Idzik spoke positively about the notion of Holmes taking the field is a promising sign, even though he still hasn't been cleared by the team's doctors and trainers for game action.
"Like I've said the whole time, I'm hopeful he plays," Ryan said. "Let's just put it that way. So we'll see. We'll let the doctors and the trainers give the final word on it, but like I've said the whole time, I'm hopeful he plays because he's a difference-maker."
Idzik said on ESPN Radio "it would be a huge lift for our team" if Holmes is in uniform. "We're working toward that," he said, "and hope to see him on Sunday."
Holmes hurt his foot last September against the 49ers. Activated from the PUP list Aug. 23, he's taken part in only two weeks of practices and has not been going full speed. His presence at least would provide the potential of a long-ball threat and perhaps take a little pressure off quarterback Geno Smith, who will make his NFL debut.
Holmes has resisted any urge to predict his status for Sunday, even saying he doesn't expect to know for sure until the morning of the game. He's made it known that he doesn't want to play unless he feels physically ready.
"I have a long career and I don't want to go out there and do anything to jeopardize that up until this point," he said Wednesday. "We have 16 games to play this season and hopefully, I can play in all 16. But if not, we'll have to deal with what I can do."
Notes & quotes: Tackle Kenrick Ellis (back) also is listed as questionable. Quarterback Mark Sanchez (shoulder) and linebacker Quinton Coples (ankle) are out . . . Idzik said it was "commendable" that Ryan missed the Jets' cut day last weekend to watch his son's Clemson team play and said media coverage of the coach's absence "certainly was overblown." . . . Ryan said Matt Simms will be Smith's backup and said he doesn't like to dress three quarterbacks, so Brady Quinn could be a short-term roster casualty.