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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- It was a trick play at New York Jets minicamp -- nothing serious.
But from the sideline, Santonio Holmes thought Antonio Cromartie got too close to quarterback Mark Sanchez, who slipped on the play. Holmes responded by laying into Cromartie in the middle of the Jets' second practice of the mandatory minicamp.
As it turns out, Holmes has Sanchez's back in more ways than one. The wide receiver, who has been sidelined with a Lisfranc injury since last season, said he believes Sanchez will be the Jets' starting quarterback on Day 1, despite the open competition involving rookie Geno Smith.
"[Sanchez is] going to be our guy," Holmes said Wednesday. "Coaches brought him back and they kept him on this team for a reason. He's a great leader and he's got great potential and he's excited about this season upcoming, and so am I."
Whether Holmes will be ready for the start of the season remains uncertain. Holmes replied, "No comments," when asked whether he expects to play in Week 1.
Holmes, who said he needed to learn to walk all over again, characterized his rehab as progressing, but that it is limited to working out -- no running or cutting just yet. He pedaled the stationary bike briskly Wednesday.
Holmes was clear that he expects to get back to top form, he just doesn't have a timeline. And when he does return, he expects Sanchez to be under center.
"I signed back because of him, so nothing's changed," Holmes said.
It was just two seasons ago that a frustrated Holmes stormed off the field in the Jets' last game of the season. He and Sanchez needed relationship rehab that offseason, getting together one-on-one just to clear the air. It must have worked, because Holmes has been a vocal supporter of Sanchez even though the quarterback has faced criticism for turnovers the past two seasons.
"I think everybody believes in him," Holmes said "He wouldn't be here if anybody didn't believe in him. He's still wearing the same No. 6 jersey that he wore since the day he got drafted here, and I think the organization and even the team love him and we're going to continue supporting him."
So what did Cromartie think of Holmes' reaction at practice? The cornerback reflected that it must be hard for Holmes to be on the sideline for so long, but then he cracked: "Somebody's gotta have some fire on that side of the ball."