Plaxico Burress to start Sunday

Updated: August 19, 2011, 7:38 PM ET
By Rich Cimini | ESPNNewYork.com

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- When it comes to Plaxico Burress, Rex Ryan is like a lot of football fans: He can't wait to see him on the field, catching passes.

Burress will get that opportunity Sunday night against the Cincinnati Bengals, and it won't be just a cameo appearance. The controversial wide receiver, who returned to practice Wednesday after sitting out several days with a sprained ankle, will start for the New York Jets and play into the second quarter with the rest of the regulars.

"We'll leave him in there and let him play a bunch," Ryan said.

Burress probably won't get a chance to play with the Jets' other new receiver, Derrick Mason, 37, who left practice Friday with an injured right knee.

Training camp is no country club for old men because, a little later in practice, backup quarterback Mark Brunell, 40, pulled a calf muscle while running full speed on a rollout. He pulled up limping and appeared to be in significant discomfort as he was escorted to the locker room, walking so deliberately that he paused momentarily after each step.

Brunell and Mason, the two oldest players on the team, are questionable for Sunday night.

Mason and Santonio Holmes started the first preseason game, a 20-16 loss to the Houston Texans. Now it will be Holmes and Burress, with rookie Jeremy Kerley as the No. 3 receiver.

None of the injuries appear serious, but they're disrupting the offense as it attempts to build chemistry with a revamped receiving corps. Burress didn't sign until the eve of training camp and Mason didn't arrive until the following week, putting Mark Sanchez & Co. in a hurry-up mode.

"It's going to take a little time to get where we want to go, being the No. 1 offense in the league, but we definitely have that potential," said running back LaDainian Tomlinson, taking the optimistic view.

That Burress is on the field, playing without any apparent discomfort, is probably the most important thing. Burress, 34, is attempting to regain his old form -- no easy task considering he missed two seasons while serving a prison sentence for illegal weapons possession.

"I think we know what we've got, but absolutely I want to see him out there," Ryan said. "It will be great to see him going against another team."

Burress was an afterthought in his first two days of full practice, but he made an impact Friday, catching a 72-yard touchdown pass from Sanchez. Before practice, Ryan had joked, "I'd like to see us throw the ball a little more to him."

Brunell was slated to play after missing the opener with a dislocated pinky on his throwing hand, but it probably doesn't make much sense to put a gimpy quarterback behind the second-team offensive line, which struggled against the Texans.

Rookie Greg McElroy, who played the final three quarters last week, probably will relieve starter Mark Sanchez for another extended outing. McElroy had a busy day, completing 23 of 39 passes for 208 yards and a touchdown, but he also was sacked five times.

"I hope he doesn't get smashed again," Ryan said of his seventh-round pick from Alabama.

If Brunell's injury is long-term, the Jets may have to look for a veteran quarterback as insurance. The best available veteran might be Jake Delhomme, who was released July 28 by the Cleveland Browns.

Running back Shonn Greene will not play as he recovers from what the team calls a "low-grade skin infection" on his right foot. He didn't practice Thursday or Friday and isn't expected to again until next week. Greene is taking antibiotics, but Ryan says "nobody seems too concerned."

Nick Mangold (stinger) and Joe McKnight (concussion) are expected to play.

Rich Cimini covers the Jets for ESPNNewYork.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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