Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes catches a pass during a...

Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes catches a pass during a minicamp in Florham Park, N.J. (June 14, 2010) Credit: AP

CORTLAND, N.Y. - Mark Sanchez did his usual sprint to the end zone to meet his target after a touchdown toss, first motoring to the back near the end line to jokingly leap on special-teams coach Mike Westhoff.

This celebration had a different feel to it, though, because the target arrived about six hours earlier, not long after 11 a.m., when the first of the two-a-day practices had wrapped up.

Santonio Holmes was finally in training camp, three days after everyone else reported - well, except for Darrelle Revis - because the Jets gave him permission to spend a few extra days with his 8-year-old son, Santonio III, after the child's recent surgery.

"The first day was cool, man," Holmes said. "I actually didn't think I was going to be ready for it. I've been doing a lot of traveling, doing a lot of family time and issues. But I think it's just a mental thing. They got me back into the groove.

"I was ready to go," he added. "Coach had to pull me out of two-minutes today because he was like, 'It's only your first day. You're not fully in shape with the rest of the guys.' So I had to watch myself a little. But the first day was great."

The Jets told Holmes he could arrive Wednesday instead of Sunday because of what was going on with Santonio III. Holmes' son had surgery in Atlanta to remove his spleen because of complications with Sickle Cell, a genetic disorder in which red blood cells take on abnormal, rigid or sickle-type shape. It affects mostly those of African, Mediterranean, Indian and Middle Eastern heritage.

Holmes said the surgery included punching four holes into Santonio III's stomach.

"It was definitely much needed to have his spleen removed at the time," Holmes said. "Over the years, the doctors told us he can't get it removed until he's about 8 years old because he really needs it at a young age, and it was steadily increasing inside his stomach. So it was definitely time for it to be removed."

Holmes traveled back from Atlanta yesterday and was greeted warmly by teammates. Sanchez, Holmes' training-camp roommate, was glad to have his new weapon around again.

"He's been great," Sanchez said. "In the camp we had in California, he did an awesome job of getting open, listening, really talking through routes. 'Here, this is how I run my route. Talk to me about it. What do you think? What are your thoughts? Let's watch it.'

"This is going to be great, and it's an extra set of hands, extra set of legs for the receivers. So it's pretty hot out here."

Holmes is facing a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy, so he knows he has to get as much conditioning and as many reps as he can in now. So, unfortunately, he couldn't spend any more time with Santonio III and had to get things rolling at SUNY Cortland.

"I think we've got a special bond that we understand each other and he knows that Dad works his butt off when I'm here," Holmes said. "He comes to practice with me during the offseason, during the season he shows up during practices. So he knows what I do.

"So I'm pretty sure he's excited about me getting back to it."

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