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Santonio Holmes downplays return to face Jets

Santonio Holmes of the Chicago Bears stretches during

Santonio Holmes of the Chicago Bears stretches during pregame warmups before a game against the Buffalo Bills at Soldier Field on Sept. 7, 2014 in Chicago. Credit: Getty Images / Jonathan Daniel

LAKE FOREST, Ill. - Santonio Holmes insisted Thursday that he hasn't even thought about returning to MetLife Stadium to face the Jets Monday night.

"I'm here now. My focus is to help the Chicago Bears make plays and win ballgames, not really focusing on any other team,'' he said.

Holmes didn't open up about his checkered Jets tenure, which ended after four seasons when he was released in March.

When asked about his controversial 2011 season, he said, "I don't remember 2011.'' But Jets fans undoubtedly recall that he was benched after arguing in the huddle late in a Week 17 loss to the Dolphins that eliminated the Jets from playoff contention.

Holmes didn't want to discuss the negative parts of his time with the Jets. "Right now there really aren't any [emotions],'' he said. "Be ready, do my job, make some plays for this team and come home with a 'W'.''

With a high-powered Bears offense that features targets in Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and former Giants tight end Martellus Bennett, Holmes hasn't had many chances to make plays, with only four receptions through two games.

Injuries short-circuited Holmes' last two seasons with the Jets. He played 11 games last season and caught 23 passes for 456 yards and one touchdown from Geno Smith, whom he praised highly.

"He did exactly what the coaches wanted him to do, minus the few turnovers and mistakes,'' Holmes said. "But that's what young quarterbacks who want to be great try, to make as many plays as they can, and sometimes things happen.

"But as far as what he's done, he's definitely grown into that starting role. He's taken on that leadership role very well.''

Jets coach Rex Ryan praised Holmes earlier this week, and the ninth-year pro had nothing negative to say about his former coach.

"As far as him being the head coach, he's a great guy,'' Holmes said. "He accepted me through all the trials and tribulations, gave me an opportunity to be a great player for him, and I really thank him for it.''

He said he informed Bears coaches about what to expect from the Jets' defense.

"No matter who is on the field, they can play any coverage versus any personnel on offense,'' Holmes said. "I think that in turn makes it difficult who to block and what guys cover that.''

Holmes said he hasn't talked to any of his former teammates in the buildup to the game. He also said he wouldn't go out of his way to shake hands with them before kickoff.

He said the reception he'll get from the fans isn't a concern.

"It was four great years,'' Holmes said. "I'm a Chicago Bear now.''

New York Sports