Florham Park, N.J.– Santonio Holmes missed the last few weeks of OTAs as he was doing charity work with the same people he worked with during his Pros for Africa trip last year. This year Holmes spent his time at the Ramstein Air Force base in Germany getting to know soldiers and veterans that have been fighting to help keep this country safe.
An experience like that is enough to change anyone’s perspective on life, especially a man that was the subject of so much criticism for the way he and this team ended last season.
“Germany was great. I had a wonderful time just getting the opportunity to see the guys who were bombed in Afghanistan and Iraq. Hearing the stories that they were telling (while we’re) worrying about our hamstrings and our receiver core, to knee injuries has nothing on what these guys have been faced with.” Holmes said, “With the scrap metal from all the bombing and having their trucks blown up right in their face, to guys just getting shot out in the middle of nowhere. So it just gives you a different perspective on life, on the things that we accomplish and where we are and what these guys are fighting for.”
With a new perspective and a few much needed months off from the New York media, Holmes has returned ready to help get his team back on the same track that they were derailed from last season after back-to-back AFC Championship appearances and he talked about how he plans on catching up to his teammates, Tim Tebow and Mark Sanchez and the new offensive system under Tony Sparano.
Holmes said he was scheduled to take 35 reps in practice today, but realized he wouldn’t be able to do all 35 reps without pushing himself too far so he took himself out of drills once he felt he hit a wall around “20-25 reps.” Holmes acknowledged that he is behind his teammates as far as OTA work is concerned, but he plans on making up for it immediately.
“I’ll stick around. I don’t have anywhere to go, I don’t have anything else to do but football… But I think catching up from the OTAs that I missed, I’m at OTA five, the team’s at OTA nine or 10 and I got a lot of catching up to do for myself.” Holmes said, “As much I can stick in my playbook and start back from where I missed as opposed to where these guys are right now.”
Having to catch up on missing some OTAs wouldn’t normally be a big deal, but a lot has changed since last year. The receiving core has changed, there’s a new backup quarterback that people really like to talk about and a new offensive coordinator with an entirely new offensive system to implement. So it’s not as easy as simply catching up on conditioning, but Holmes seems to be taking it all in stride and happily walking the company line for now.
When asked what he has seen so far from Tebow, Holmes said, “He’s learning how to be come more of a quarterback. He’s understanding (and) accepting his role, he’s listening to the coaches, he’s going through the mechanics, he’s working on his mechanics. He’s understanding that this offense has a lot of concepts and build-ups and he’s going to do what he needs to do to fit in.”
As far as what Holmes expects from each quarterback? It’s quite simple, “I think just allow the playmakers to make plays. When Tim (Tebow) is in the game, don’t expect everything Mark is doing to be done the same way as Tim.”
Sanchez is still the unquestioned starter for the Jets, but Holmes has visions of Tebow helping this team in other ways, “Oh, no question. We brought him here for one reason and that’s to help us win ball games.”
“I think the trust of the quarterbacks is coming along.” Holmes said, “The guys are putting the ball there, giving us receivers an opportunity to just make plays and I think just building that trust factor, and letting these quarterbacks know that we’re going to be where we’re supposed to be at, is giving these guys a lot of confidence in knowing they can just throw the ball and we’re going to be responsible.”
With Brian Schottenheimer no longer calling plays for the Jets, Holmes can relax and not stress out worrying about what mistakes his coach is or isn’t making. A lot has been made recently about the complexity of Schottenheimer’s system and Holmes, just like his teammates, are happily welcoming the change to simplicity.
“It’s a lot simpler.” Holmes said, “It’s a lot more simple and understandable for us as receivers. Knowing that our formations, and where we’re supposed to be at, is all given to us.”
But it’s the difference in personalties that really has Holmes excited as he raved about Sparano’s no-nonsense style.
“I think it’s great for an offense who was lacking a lot of that last year.” Holmes said, “Bringing it to us and not even caring what we think, it’s just know what you need to know and being where you’re supposed to be is what coach Sparano is bringing to us right now and that’s all he wants to preach to us.”
Holmes likes the changes and hopes they translate into more wins, but he still plans to bring the same intensity, same passion for the game and same toughness that has made him an elite receiver in this league over his first six years.
“Just being tough. Getting on the field not taking anything from any defense.” Holmes said, “Knowing that we have one of the best defenses in the NFL and if we can beat these guys everyday in practice, we can’t take no B.S. from anybody else that steps on the field on gameday.”
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