EDINBURGH, Ind. – Plaxico Burress is tight with Santonio Holmes.
So Burress has a good idea of the wide receiver’s inner workings and seems sure Holmes will bounce back from the ugly incident in the season finale, when some teammates felt he quit on the team in the Jets' loss in Miami.
“I know Santonio will be fine,” Burress told me after a NFL 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.”
But in Burress’ eyes, the fractured relationship between Holmes and Mark Sanchez shouldn’t keep the two 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. They’ll be just fine.”
Burress believes the same goes for Sanchez, who’s been criticized heavily for not taking that leap many thought he would in his third season.
“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. There’s no doubt about it. 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 and I think he’ll play better.”
Asked if Sanchez has the skill set to be an elite quarterback, Burress didn’t hesitate even slightly.
“Of course,” he said. “You’ve seen him play well. I’ve seen him play well and go out and make great decisions, and put the ball where it needs to be put. He didn’t do as well as he would have liked for whatever reason that may be. This is the first time that I’ve talked about it. But I think he’ll be just fine. I had a season where I didn’t do as well as I wanted to particularly back in 2003 when we didn’t make the playoffs when I was with the Steelers.
“This is the second time in my career, that I haven’t made the playoffs. But 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.”
As for all the chatter about the Jets’ locker room issues – from LaDainian Tomlinson’s candid remarks to Greg McElroy’s comments – and if it’s been blown out of proportion, Burress said he wasn’t aware
“I’ve been so far away from everything media wise that I haven’t even seen or heard anything like that,” he said. “But the Jets locker room is the Jets locker room. Every locker room is different. The locker room is really where everything is supposed be kept in the locker room. What L.T. said, I didn’t see it or read it. L.T. is a great friend of mine. I love him to death.”
Another one of Burress’ good friends – Giants running back Brandon Jacobs – said the other day that Burress wasn’t used properly with the Jets, which was a reason Burress caught 45 passes for 612 yards with eight TDs.
Asked if he thinks he could have made more plays if he was put in a better position to do so as Jacons suggested Burress said: “I mean, everybody feels they can make more plays. I pretty much went out and did what I was asked to do. We called plays and we tried to make plays. That’s just how it is. I think I did pretty well for the most part.
“I know this coming up season, I’ll be stronger and I’ll have minicamps and training camps and all those things to get ready to play.”
So does Burress, who’ll soon be a free agent, think it’s time to try something else and play for another team other than the Jets?
“I wouldn’t say it’s time to move on and try something else,” he said. “I was only there a year. That was the contract that I signed. I have nothing negative to say about Rex [Ryan] or Woody [Johnson] or Mike Tannenbaum. Man, they bought me in with a situation, not knowing what they were going to get out of me as far as not playing for two seasons. I tip my hat to Woody and Rex. I have nothing bad to say about those guys.”
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,” Burress 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. Different things like that. 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.”
But he’s confident he has more left in the old gas tank.
“I’ll be the first one to say when I think it’s time for me to shut it down and I don’t feel like playing any more, that’s when I’ll sit it down,” he said. “I still have some playing days in front of me. I’m going to enjoy it and have fun. When my body tells me I can’t do it no more, I won’t do it no more.”