FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Ten or 12 snaps is probably all Santonio Holmes and Jeremy Kerley will get Sunday night. But even in limited action, their presence should be a big spark for the Jets' struggling offense.
Barring any setback, Rex Ryan said Friday that both wide receivers will play in their first live action of the preseason against the Carolina Panthers at MetLife Stadium. Though Kerley had hoped for "15 or so" reps, Ryan said both will be limited to 10 or 12 plays.
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Offensive production has been a glaring need for the Jets this preseason. But Ryan said that when it comes to Holmes and Kerley, he's more focused on the ultimate goal: the regular-season opener Sept. 9 at home against Buffalo.
"We just want to be real cautious here," he said. "We need these guys."
Ryan also downplayed the need for tangible offensive proof of his team's preseason progress.
"I think the confidence is up, anyway," he said, although the Jets have totaled three field goals in two games. "It's not like we're showing everything we've done, that we have. So I think [they're] confident. I like the way guys are practicing. But would you like to see some points and score some touchdowns? Yes, of course."
Kerley, who suffered a slight hamstring tear on the first day of training camp, said he's "about 90, 95 percent" healthy and "mentally ready" to play through the soreness Sunday.
Despite limited practice time this week, the slot receiver said it hasn't been difficult to develop chemistry with Mark Sanchez or Tim Tebow. "With both of those guys, all you've got to do is get there and they'll put the ball there," said Kerley, who averaged about 11 yards per punt return last season.
Their return can't come at a better time for the Jets. Not only is Sunday's game the final dress rehearsal for the starters, who won't play Thursday night against the Eagles, but two key members of their defense were sidelined Friday. Veteran safety Yeremiah Bell was held out of practice with "general soreness" in a knee and defensive tackle Mike DeVito limped off the practice field with a calf injury. If either player has lingering issues, they won't play, Ryan said.
The Jets' final open (to the public) practice was littered with mental errors and miscommunication on both sides of the ball. Ryan, who addressed the team before the start of practice about the chippiness he's seen of late, closed out the session by challenging his guys to "get with your coaches" to prevent mistakes from carrying over to live games. "For a Friday where we call 'Perfect Friday,' '' he said, "it certainly wasn't perfect."
Notes & quotes: Ryan said Tebow will not play against the Eagles in the team's fourth preseason game. Instead, Greg McElroy and Matt Simms will share QB duties . . . S LaRon Landry told reporters he did not get fined by the NFL for his hit on Giants WR Victor Cruz . . . The Jets said 2,772 fans attended Friday's practice, bringing their two-day total this week to 5,157.
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