Jets receivers Plaxico Burress, right, and Santonio Holmes, left, celebrate...

Jets receivers Plaxico Burress, right, and Santonio Holmes, left, celebrate after Holmes' touchdown in a 28-24 Jets win over the Buffalo Bills. (Nov. 27, 2011) Credit: David Pokress

EDINBURGH, Ind. -- Plaxico Burress is tight with Santonio Holmes.

Burress was one of Holmes' closest friends this past season, so he has a good idea of the wide receiver's inner workings. He seems sure that Holmes will bounce back from an ugly incident in the Jets' season finale, when some teammates believed he quit on the team.

"I know Santonio will be fine," Burress told Newsday yesterday after a military outreach event at Camp Atterbury, his first extensive interview since the season ended. "We all go through things in our careers and do certain things that we wish we could take back. I believe in him.

"I know how talented he is and he probably was a little frustrated because he's the No. 1 playmaker on that team on offense and he knows what kind of player he is. I know what kind of player he is. With everything that was going on, nobody really did as well as they wanted to. So everybody was a little frustrated."

Burress says the fractured relationship between Holmes and Mark Sanchez shouldn't keep them from coexisting. "It's football, man," he said. "They'll be fine. They'll get together and sit down like men, hash out whatever it is they have going on. Everybody makes a big deal out of it, but they'll go out and play ball and 'Tone will make plays and Mark will play better."

Burress believes that Sanchez, who's been criticized heavily for not taking the leap many thought he would in his third season, will step up.

"If he were in a market like Cincinnati or Jacksonville, he wouldn't be scrutinized as much," Burress said. "Me knowing him, he'll work hard this offseason, and it's no doubt that he'll come back and do better. He didn't do particularly as well as he wanted to. And we all didn't from that standpoint, ending up 8-8 and not making the playoffs.

"I think he understands that their organization and that team will go as far as he plays. If he plays well, they'll win a championship, and I think he understands that.''

Asked if Sanchez has the skill set to be an elite quarterback, Burress didn't hesitate even slightly. "Of course," he said. "I've seen him play well and go out and make great decisions and put the ball where it needs to be put . . . He's a third-year guy going into his fourth year and this is the time where you usually see young guys become the kind of player they want to become. He'll work hard. I know that he doesn't like the feeling of him playing the way that he did and the things that people are saying. I know he'll play better."

Burress, who'll be a free agent, said he'll soon evaluate what his next move will be. "I'm just going to make the best decision -- what I think is the best situation for me," he said. "I'll have the same evaluation process that I did when I decided to go to the Jets. I'll just look at the situation based on team, coach, style of play, offense. I'm a receiver, so I can't do it by myself. So I'm going to make a decision based on what's best for me and the family."

Notes & quotes: Two weeks after accepting an assistant coaching position at West Virginia, Mike Smith decided to return to the Jets to remain their outside linebackers coach.

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