- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
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CORTLAND, N.Y. -- Wide receiver Santonio Holmes, who suffered apparent rib-cartilage damage in Saturday night's intrasquad scrimmage, didn't practice Monday and is "doubtful" for the New York Jets' preseason opener Friday night in Cincinnati.
Initially, the Jets feared that Holmes, their top playmaker, had sustained a fractured rib. An X-ray was negative, the team said, but he still was experiencing considerable discomfort. New York coach Rex Ryan said Holmes, who overcame a rib fracture earlier in his career, may have a cartilage issue.
"We're lucky he never had a fractured rib like I thought, so that's a good sign," Ryan said before practice, adding that he won't rule out Holmes for Friday night. "But I'd say he's doubtful."
The timing is awful for the Jets, who are attempting to rebuild their receiving corps while learning a new offensive system.
"As soon as he's back, we have to get as many reps as possible to make up for lost time," quarterback Mark Sanchez said.
New York could be without their top three receivers from last season in the preseason opener. Holmes is injured, Plaxico Burress wasn't re-signed and slot receiver Jeremy Kerley has missed a week with a pulled hamstring.
Kerley's injury, coupled with his struggles in learning Tony Sparano's system, is a source of frustration for Ryan, who called out the second-year receiver last week. The coach rarely criticizes his players publicly.
"I'm concerned because I think he needs to get out there, and he has to show that he has the system down," Ryan said.
Without Holmes, the current receiving corps includes rookie Stephen Hill, Patrick Turner and former Oakland Raider Chaz Schilens. The Jets are hoping that rookie Jordan White, a seventh-round pick coming off a broken foot, can develop quickly.
In Monday's practice, Hill provided a feel-good moment, beating cornerback Darrelle Revis to haul in a 50-yard touchdown bomb from Sanchez in a 7-on-7 drill.
"He's doing a great job stretching the field," Sanchez said. "He's fast, he's a long guy. He can really stride ... It's nice to see that happen to Stephen, but we've got to work on the intermediate and underneath stuff as well. He has to be sharp on that as well."
The Jets have 12 receivers on the roster, but Holmes is the only one with a proven track record. Ryan said he doesn't anticipate adding a veteran.
"I hope not," he said.
As of Sunday, the Jets hadn't reached out to Burress, according to a source. He remains unsigned.
Nevertheless, the injuries are disrupting the offense -- Sanchez, in particular -- as the Jets attempt to get comfortable with the Sparano way. Ryan said he's not concerned. He praised Sanchez, remarking that the QB's poise is the best he's ever seen.
"His presence in the pocket is so much better," Ryan said.
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