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Plaxico excused from two practices

Plaxico Burress of the New York Jets warms

Plaxico Burress of the New York Jets warms up before their game against the Buffalo Bills. (Nov. 6, 2011) Credit: Getty Images

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Plaxico Burress has been excused from the first two days of practice this week because of personal reasons, Rex Ryan said.

"This was a while ago that we talked [about it]," he said Monday. "He's got a personal day today and tomorrow, and I'll just leave it at that."

ESPN reported that Burress' wife, Tiffany, said he is in the Virginia Beach area and is going to visit his old high school. Burress reportedly also was planning to join forces with a charity called United in Him in his native Virginia, giving out Thanksgiving turkeys to needy families.

The Jets expect Burress, who's been nursing a lower- back injury during the last two weeks, to return to practice Wednesday.

Rex defends Smith

Eric Smith tends to be involved in at least one negative play per game. The latest example came in the Jets' 17-13 loss to the Broncos on Thursday when he got sucked into the teeth of the Denver offensive line and failed to contain Tim Tebow on his winning 20-yard touchdown run with 58 seconds remaining. But Ryan heaped praise on the safety, calling criticism of Smith's roller-coaster season "unfair."

"I'll bet on Eric Smith every day of the week," Ryan said. "Is he perfect? No, he's not perfect. But I know one thing: He's going to give you everything he has. He's got heart. I can't say enough good things about Eric Smith."

Mending Jets

RBs LaDainian Tomlinson (knee) and Shonn Greene (ribs), WR Jeremy Kerley (knee), S Brodney Pool (knee) and RG Matt Slauson (knee) were held out of practice Monday. Ryan believes he'll have all five available against the Bills on Sunday. "Would [they] have played today? I don't know about that," he said. "But I think by Sunday, our guys will be ready." Greene, who was injured on the Jets' second series against Denver and didn't return, said he expects to be fitted with a special shirt to help protect him. Like Slauson, Greene hopes to practice Tuesday.

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