An organizational source said many people around the team believe the mercurial wide receiver is just trying to avoid training camp and he is healthier than he is letting on. In fact, a source said Dr. Robert Anderson, the foot specialist in North Carolina who operated on Holmes, has cleared Holmes to begin football activities, but Holmes has resisted.
Holmes claims he cannot run routes yet and will not give any timetable for his return. It has been 11 months since Holmes suffered a Lisfranc injury in his left foot that required two surgeries. Holmes said he still feels pain in the foot every day when he wakes up.
“I can’t pinpoint a day when it will feel better because every day has been the same up until this point,” Holmes said. “I feel good some days. I don’t the others. This pain won’t go away. It’s something I can’t predict because I have to get up and I have to run. I have to cut. I have to put pressure on it and apply as much pressure as I can to run routes and to feel comfortable.”
There is a theory around the Jets that Holmes will suddenly pronounce himself ready to play when the regular season arrives in two weeks and training camp is through. Holmes also missed most of last year’s training camp with what was listed as “general body soreness” and then a rib injury.
Others inside the Jets think Holmes could wait to see how the team starts the season before deciding when to play. If the team is losing, he may wait a while. If things are going well, he will join the party.
Officially, the Jets have said Holmes has not been cleared by the doctors.
“He seems excited,” coach Rex Ryan said. “I think that’s a good sign. Again, he’s going to lean on the trainers. We’re all going to lean on the trainers and the doctors. When they say he’s ready to go, he’ll be champing at the bit. I can tell you that right now. He’s in great shape.”
Holmes did some running on the field before last weekend’s preseason game with the Jaguars, which made some speculate he was close to returning. Holmes downplayed that idea.
“What you seen on Saturday at the game wasn’t anything in particular extra,” Holmes said. “It was just giving it a try and seeing what I can do.”
The Jets open the season against the Buccaneers on Sept. 8. Holmes said he does not think it’s unrealistic he will be able to play then. Asked if he is holding out hope to be on the field that day, Holmes said, “Why would I hold out anything? If I can go, I will go. If I can’t, I can’t.”
It has been 11 months since Holmes suffered the injury in Week against the 49ers. By comparison, Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew suffered a Lisfranc injury a month after Holmes and has been participating in training camp. He returned to the field last week against the Jets, something members of the organization took note of.
Holmes’ status is like a guessing game around the Jets. While some wonder if he’ll be back in two weeks, others think it could be October.
General manager John Idzik said he was hopeful Holmes is close to returning this week and Ryan has repeatedly praised Holmes’ work rehabbing from the injury.
Holmes seems to be tempering any optimism though and had an interesting response when told Ryan said he looks like he’s in great shape.
“Looks can be deceiving,” Holmes said. “I say that with a smile because if I actually felt as good as I look, I’d definitely be 100 percent ready.”
At the moment, Holmes said he is unable to “be at Santonio Holmes’ level of competition.” He won’t even commit to returning this season.
“I don’t know how to answer that question as far as missing the whole season,” he said. “We have 16 weeks of football. At any point, I could be ready to play and if not I’d be willing to accept it.“