During a training camp conversation with Bobby Bowden, Rex Ryan told the college coaching legend -- a one-day guest of the New York Jets -- that Santonio Holmes "might be the best player on the field." It was quite a statement, considering the talent on the roster -- a miked-up moment that made "Hard Knocks."
After a long wait, Holmes will get his chance to back up Ryan's words.
The former Super Bowl MVP, whom the Jets acquired in April in a trade with the Pittsburgh Steelers, was reinstated Monday from a four-game drug suspension and will make his Jets debut next Monday night against the Minnesota Vikings.
"We shouldn't miss a beat with him," Ryan said. "To add a terrific player like Santonio to what we already have -- our offense is on a roll -- it's good. ... It should be fun to watch."
Holmes is new to the Jets' system, but he participated in the offseason program and the preseason. He also attended meetings during his suspension, a league-imposed sanction for violating the substance abuse policy. He wasn't allowed to practice with the team, but he will be on the field Wednesday, when the Jets (3-1) start their Vikings preparation.
It's another weapon for an offense that's averaging 32.3 points per game over the last three.
The Jets knew about Holmes' looming suspension when they dealt a fifth-round pick to the Steelers, but they felt the reward was worth the risk.
Ryan was so excited when he found out that Holmes was available that he interrupted an interview in his office, ran upstairs to Mike Tannenbaum and told the general manager to make the deal. Ryan's endorsement included some salty language, his way of giving an emphatic thumb's up.
Now the question is: How do the Jets integrate Holmes -- a 1,200-yard receiver last season -- into the offense?
Clearly, it will mean less playing time for Brad Smith, the No. 3 receiver over the first month of the season. The fourth and fifth receivers, David Clowney and Patrick Turner, were waived Monday to make room on the roster for Holmes and defensive tackle Howard Green, who was re-signed.
Ryan said his advice for Sanchez is: "Just throw it to the open guy. Whoever's open, just throw it to him."
In the first four games, Sanchez spread the ball around to four primary receivers: tight end Dustin Keller (targeted 30 times), wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery (21), wide receiver Braylon Edwards (19) and running back LaDainian Tomlinson (19).
If they can keep their egos in check, and if coordinator Brian Schottenheimer can figure out a way to keep everyone involved, the passing game should continue to flourish.
Initially, Holmes probably will be used as the third receiver in three-receiver packages. Once he gets into football shape, it'll be hard to keep him off the field because he's probably the most complete receiver on the team. He caught 79 balls for 1,248 yards and five touchdowns last season.
"You add Santonio to the mix, we can be more explosive and add more diversity to the offense," right tackle Damien Woody said. "The sky's the limit for this offense right now."
Rich Cimini covers the Jets for ESPNNewYork.com.