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Teammates critical of Holmes' behavior

New York Jets' Santonio Holmes is escorted out

New York Jets' Santonio Holmes is escorted out of the Jets' locker room in Florham Park, N.J. (Jan. 2, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- When Santonio Holmes returns to the Jets' locker room next season, the wide receiver will have to show his teammates that he's decided to put the team ahead of himself.

That was the message resonating from several Jets players Monday as they cleaned out their lockers, their season having ended Sunday without a playoff berth.

A day after Holmes was pulled from the field in the final minutes of the Jets' loss in Miami for arguing in the huddle, several players openly questioned why he was concerned with his own interests at such a crucial juncture for the team.

Wide receiver Patrick Turner, who was sent into the game to replace Holmes, said his teammate had "lost focus" regarding the team's goals in recent days. Cornerback Antonio Cromartie said he "congratulated" teammates who spoke up and "showed leadership" after the on-field incident. And guard Matt Slauson went so far as to question whether Holmes will be able to undo the damage he caused.

Their comments came on the heels of a final team meeting with coach Rex Ryan in the early morning at the team's practice facility. Ryan started to cry while discussing his disappointment in the lack of team unity this season, Slauson said.

"He was crying because he loves us, respects us and knows what we're capable of, and we didn't even come close to our goals," he said. "And that's sad because we have the players in this room to be an amazing team, and we weren't even close."

Slauson thought the fracture among teammates in the locker room began in October when Holmes criticized the offensive line's performance in consecutive weeks. That brought a surprising public rebuke from veteran guard Brandon Moore, long regarded among Jets players as a soft-spoken leader.

"The situation where Holmes called out the O-line and the O-line chirped back, that kind of stuff destroys teams," Slauson said. "That's Football 101. You don't call out your teammates, not publicly. If you have a problem with them, you go up to them and say I've got an issue. That's something that needs to be fixed."

When Moore was asked Monday if he was disappointed in Holmes' actions against Miami, he said: "I don't know if disappointed is the word. I don't really have words to describe what that was."

Holmes was at the complex for the meeting and made a brief appearance in the locker room, but declined to speak to reporters. After picking up a cardboard package and a Jets helmet from his locker, he quickly left the room, escorted to the door by a team media relations official.

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