The new-look Jets receiving corps started to come into focus today when Plaxico Burress returned to the field as a participant in full team drills. The 6'5" receiver had been sidelined since Aug. 4 with an ankle sprain but was healthy and enjoying the chance to finally take the field with his new teammates.
In his morning news conference, head coach Rex Ryan expressed his excitement to see the Jets' new weapon roam the field. He also was not worried about Plaxico being lost in the offense, as the former Super Bowl champ has taken his role with the Jets seriously.
"He's been doing the mental part. Now just take it to the field," said Ryan. "I've seen guys get it down on the blackboard and then you're out on the field and there's a pause. I don't think he'll have it, but we'll see."
It certainly didn't appear Burress paused. Suited up in full pads, he wore a small ankle brace under his sock and did not seem inhibited in his motions whatsoever. He took reps with the first offense on both the outside and in the slot. His versatility was visible and he could prove to be a great complement to the receivers already in place.
"We're all great fits," said Burress. "We're all special in one skill or another. Tone [Santonio Holmes] is a big playmaker, D-Mace [Derrick Mason] is as consistent as you can be over a 15-year career. As for myself, I'm just going to go out and be me."
Before practice, Mason explained how important it is to have him, Burress and Holmes on the field simultaneously.
"I'm very optimistic," said Mason. "You have a Super Bowl MVP [Holmes], a guy that caught the winning touchdown in a Super Bowl [Burress], and myself, a guy who's played a lot of years and caught a lot of balls. And we've got a good, young quarterback, a smart quarterback. I'm very optimistic of what this offense can do."
Although Sanchez now has three talented, proven receivers to throw to, the team has been assured that egos will not stand in the way of their collective goals.
"The thing that's great about this football team is that it's a team," said Ryan. "That's the only ego we're concerned with. When the team succeeds, we all succeed. The ego is driven more from 'I can help the team, give me the football.' We're going to be happy no matter how we get down there and get it in the end zone."
Mason echoed Ryan and further stressed the need to take individual desire out of the equation.
"We want to win a championship," he said. "And when you want to win a championship, ultimately you have to put egos aside. Don't check your ego at the door — leave it at home. I think each guy in that room has done that. In order to win a Super Bowl, you have to be able to put your selfish ambitions to the side and work for the greater good of the team."
Throughout camp, Mason and Holmes have used their veteran perspective to sell the team-first concept to their counterparts. Today Burress joined the conversation.
"I just want to go out and compete," he said. "Whatever those numbers may be, so be it. I'm not really focusing on the numbers, I just want to come in, make an impact, make guys better around me, be consistent, and be accountable every Sunday."
No one is happier about the Jets' receiving corps than Sanchez. At the end of the day's practice, when the QB took the field to run the two-minute drill, Mason, Holmes and Burress were held out, allowing the younger receivers to experience the madness.
Sanchez turned to the sidelines, hands raised in disbelief, begging for offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer to insert his top three targets, but Schotty declined. Sanchez led the offense down the field for a touchdown anyway.
The three veteran receivers sat and watched, cheering on their teammates. All three left their egos at home.
The kicking battle continues. Nick Folk converted all four FG attempts at the end of practice, while Novak went 3-4 with his miss coming from more than 50 yards away. … Centers Nick Mangold and Robby Felix split time with the first offense. … RG Brandon Moore participated in full team drills for the first time since coming off PUP. … LB Josh Mauga saw first-team action as Bart Scott sat out practice. … Damien Woody, the recently retired Jets OL and current ESPN analyst, made an appearance at practice to visit his former teammates.