Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Updated: April 12, 7:26 PM ET
Jets players working out in Florida
ESPN.com news services
The New York Jets will begin organized voluntary workouts on Monday but quarterback Mark Sanchez and receiver Santonio Holmes have already started trying to rebuild their chemistry.
Sanchez and Holmes have spent this week at ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Fla., along with teammates Dustin Keller and Patrick Turner, the Star Ledger reported. Running back Joe McKnight might join his teammates later this week.
Tom Shaw, Holmes' longtime trainer, told the newspaper that Holmes invited Sanchez to join him in Florida. The pair also had met earlier in the offseason as they try to fix a fractured relationship that helped to derail the Jets' 2011 season.
"I know for a fact Santonio Holmes and Mark Sanchez are close," Shaw told the newspaper in a telephone interview.
A handful of players from other teams also are participating in the informal workouts, which began Monday and will continue for the remainder of the week. Tuesday's session lasted five hours, the newspaper reported.
"We got that good work in today!" Keller tweeted Tuesday, addressing some of the players.
Sanchez told reporters last month at a charity event in Manhattan: "It's not a question of if, it's just a matter of when -- and that's now."
Holmes hasn't talked about his problems with the offense since the season ended in Miami, where he was benched late in the game after nearly coming to blows with teammates in the huddle.
There will be a new dynamic for Sanchez to overcome this season, as well, with Tim Tebow added to the quarterback mix. The Jets say they acquired Tebow to play in their Wildcat package and to be the No. 2 quarterback, but if Sanchez struggles, pressure for Tebow to take over will build.
The Jets won't receive their new playbooks from new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano, the former Miami Dolphins coach, until Monday, but Shaw told the Star-Ledger that Sanchez on Tuesday called out routes and plays from notes that he brought with him. Sanchez met with former Jets and Dolphins quarterback Chad Pennington earlier this offseason in an effort to learn about Sparano and his offensive system.
"Mark was in charge, everyone was listening to his instructions," Shaw told the newspaper. "Guys from other teams, too. [The Titans'] Chris Johnson, Larry Taylor, who used to be with the Jets. Once we finished the workout for the day, Sanchez took over. He was in charge of the whole offensive part. He is working hard, and he's doing everything he can to get better."
Shaw described the 25-year-old Sanchez as a "rock star" who handles himself well despite his youth.
"I'm pretty impressed with Sanchez, I really am. I think he's someone the Jets are lucky to have," Shaw told the newspaper.
The Sanchez-Holmes relationship started to fray early last season, when Holmes, a team captain, made publicly critical remarks about the offense. Sanchez called a team meeting, imploring teammates to keep issues in-house, but Holmes continued to tweak the offense.
|Santonio Holmes and Mark Sanchez already are working to repair their frayed relationship this offseason to try to avoid a repeat of 2011.|
It unraveled during the final week of the season, when Holmes refused to attend after-hours classroom sessions that Sanchez had organized for the quarterbacks and receivers. The situation imploded in the final minutes of the regular-season finale, when Holmes started jawing with teammates in the huddle and almost came to blows with tackle Wayne Hunter. Holmes was benched.
Holmes was frustrated throughout the season because of his lack of involvement in the offense. He finished with only 51 receptions for 654 yards, his worst statistical season as a starter.
Because of a clause in his five-year, $45 million contract, signed last offseason, the Jets had little choice but to retain Holmes. He already was guaranteed $7.75 million, his salary for 2012, and most of his 2013 salary ($7.5 million, to be exact) became guaranteed on Feb. 8. The Jets had a one-day window with which to release him, but the salary-cap hit was prohibitive.
Sanchez, too, saw his contract sweetened in the offseason. He received a three-year, $40 million extension, meaning he's under contract through 2016. Two weeks after the extension was announced, which came after an ill-fated flirtation with Peyton Manning, the Jets traded for Tebow.
ESPNNewYork.com's Rich Cimini contributed to this report.