Dustin Keller wasn't sure how he was going to fare this week.
The tight end was about to come out of a monthlong hibernation and start answering queries about the Jets' chemistry issues that came to a head at the end of the season.
"I was a little nervous about it," Keller told me. I was like, ‘Ok, I have to answer all these damn questions.’ I knew I was going to have to address them at some point. But I think in addressing these things kind of made me realize more and more what was going on with the team.
"The more and more you talk about it, the more you have to think about it because I had to take a mental break from the whole entire thing for a month after the season. But I’m ready talk about it now."
Keller co-signed with Plaxico Burress' notion that the feud between Holmes and Mark Sanchez can be repaired. Burress told me yesterday that he's confident the two will be able to sit down like men and hash whatever differences they have out.
"I definitely think they could," Keller said. "I definitely agree with that. A lot of people don’t think so, but Santonio, he’s a great guy, he’s a great player, he’s a great teammate and he’s going to continue to be that. He just got caught up in an unfortunate situation – wrong place at the wrong time – and he knows that he didn’t react the right way through the situation. He knows. He’s very apologetic.
"That’s something we can overcome. We can look past that, we can just continue to build. Our offense has definitely been up and down. We’ve had some highs, but we’ve for sure had some lows and I think the biggest thing this offseason is all of us getting together, sitting down, talking about things and then just getting to work so we can start this season not behind the 8-ball, trying to play catchup."
So that's why Keller, Sanchez & Co. have already discussed putting together the third annual "Jets West" camp, a get together in Southern California with Sanchez and his receivers. Keller almost wants it to be mandatory in a sense.
"There has to be, basically, 100 percent attendance," he said. "I know it’s probably expensive to jump on a flight to L.A., but we’ll let Mark worry about that. We’ll let him pay that whole entire thing. But we’ve got to be ahead of the curve. We’ve got to get this work in early so we’re not trying to play catch up."
Keller felt that's what happened -- in part because of the lockout -- in 2011. With all the talent they had on offense, the Jets were sure they'd average at least 28 points per game.
Instead, they finished a disappointing 25th overall, leading to a level of frustration because no one felt they performed up to their best.
"One hundred percent," Keller said. "We had a Super Bowl MVP and another who had the game-winning Super Bowl catch as receivers. We have Mark who is more than capable of handling this thing. He’s a very good quarterback and he’s on his way. He’s a very good quarterback and he’s on his way. He’s going to become a great quarterback. I have all the confidence in the world in him.
"You look at all the names and stuff on paper – offensive line, we have multiple Pro Bowlers, you have receivers who’ve been to Pro Bowls, a Super Bowl MVP, a very strong quarterback. On paper, you’d think this was the best offense ever. But without consistency, it’s nothing."
Sanchez, of course, hasn't spoken publicly about the situation between Holmes and himself since the day after the season ended. Keller thinks will change soon enough, though.
"He’s going to, just like me," Keller said. "I took time off before I started talking about it. The only reason it’s just bad is having to reflect on the whole thing and these two teams being in the Super Bowl and we’re not. That’s tough, but we’re going to move past it and we have to.
"I know it’s going to be tougher for Mark because you are hearing these Peyton Manning rumors and all that. Those are just rumors right now. You just have continue to work to work the way that you work and just be the man that you are."
As for that Manning talk, Keller -- who's an Indiana native -- really doesn't want to even hear it.
"Mark’s my guy. I love Mark," he said. "He is the hardest worker I know. Obviously, Peyton is a great quarterback. Nobody can deny that. But I’ve rode with Mark for the past three years and he’s done great. He’s gotten better each and every year and he’s going to continue to get better. We don’t want to start over, start with a new guy. I have all the respect in the world for Peyton, but Mark is my guy."