Plaxico Burress adjusting to new role

Updated: September 22, 2011, 4:36 PM ET
By Jane McManus | ESPNNewYork.com

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Could Plaxico Burress be a little less than happy about the way he is being played by the New York Jets? The Jets wide receiver's playing time dipped a bit last week, and for a player who is used to being on the field for most offensive plays, it takes getting used to.

"It's different for me, it's a different role, 'cause I've always been a guy that's been on the field all the time," Burress said. "And I just take it as I'm just not in a certain package or whatever it may be. Maybe I don't fit the scheme of whatever they're trying to do at that particular point."

It's far too early in the season to be disgruntled, but the different role is one that he didn't appear to be thrilled with. He was used in 70 percent of offensive snaps in the first two weeks, compared to 81 percent for Santonio Holmes. Although he was not explicit, Burress might not feel well-used long-term if he stays limited in the Jets offense.

"It's a lot of different packages. ... I'm going in on certain packages and just trying to stay warm, trying to stay loose going in and out of the game," Burress said. "Something I'm going to have to get used to. A little different role, ride a bike or whatever on the sidelines, stay warm."

Clearly, Jets coach Rex Ryan was trying appease Burress late in the game last Sunday when he gave his quarterback explicit instructions to throw to the 6-foot-5 Burress in the red zone.

Ryan took some heat for trying to force the ball to Burress in the third quarter, with a comfortable lead on the scoreboard over the visiting Jaguars. Burress didn't get a catch that game, but Mark Sanchez did get on the injury report with a bruised elbow on his throwing arm.

"That's the (elbow) that got hit on the ill-advised pass play," Ryan said. "I can take it."

Ryan has second-guessed himself for exposing Sanchez to injury in that spot, but said he wanted to reward Burress for fighting through double coverage all game as the Jets won 32-3. In fact, he repeatedly praised Burress for drawing defenders away from the middle, allowing the Jets' tight ends to get open.

"We still scored 30 points and I didn't touch the football," Burress said. "(Derrick Mason) had one catch and (Holmes) had one catch. I mean, Dustin Keller is too good of a player for teams to play us like that."

Holmes actually had three catches for 42 yards, but Keller caught all six passes sent his way for 101 yards. Tight end Matthew Mulligan caught two passes for 8 yards.

"Teams were playing me like I've been playing for the past two years lights-out, and I've been out of the game," Burress said.

Not that he minds the respect after missing two seasons serving time on a weapons charge. This week should be a little different, in that the Jets could see more man-to-man coverage from Oakland.

"(Burress) could have some opportunities if we see a lot of man-to-man this week," Sanchez said. "We want to use our best matchups when possible, but it could be a good day for the backs and tight ends and stuff, and he understands that. He knows we're Week 2 of a marathon. He's in it for the long haul."

After the touchdown against Dallas, Burress relishes the opportunity to be more productive if he does get a chance.

"If you can beat man-to-man coverage you can do great things in this league," Burress said. "That's one of the first things Cris Carter told me when I came in this league. He said 'Man, if you can beat man-to-man coverage in this league you can play forever.' You got to pride yourself as a wide receiver being single cover, bump-and-run all game. It's something that you've got to enjoy."

In the meantime, Burress continues to try to figure out how to fit into the Jets offense.

"I'm pretty comfortable with the things I have to do," Burress said. "I'm learning as much as I can every day in the meetings. As far as me (getting) more playing time on the football field, it'll come."

Jane McManus is a columnist and reporter for ESPNNewYork.com.

Jane McManus has covered New York sports since 1998 and began covering football just before Brett Favre's stint with the Jets. Her work has appeared in Newsday, USA Today, The Journal News and The New York Times. Follow Jane on Twitter.

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