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Santonio Holmes: Still no target date

7/21/2013 - NFL Santonio Holmes New York Jets + more

NEW YORK -- Santonio Holmes isn't sure if he'll be cleared to practice for the start of training camp next Friday, but the New York Jets  most accomplished receiver expressed cautious optimism Saturday that his surgically repaired foot will be ready for the season opener.

Holmes said his objective is "to not have any setbacks by moving too fast. The season doesn't start until September. Definitely have to take our time and I'll be ready to go when the bell rings."

The Jets open in 50 days against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Darrelle Revis. Holmes wouldn't guarantee he'll be there, insisting he's in a day-to-day mode. When pressed on his availability for Week 1, he said, "Once the season gets ready to start, hopefully I'll be ready to roll."

It won't be easy.

Holmes, still not running and cutting at full speed, is expected to begin training camp on the physically-unable-to-perform list. He's been running at least three days a week, but he's limited to a gravity-assisted treadmill -- in other words, no full weight-bearing activity.

"I don't have a target date," Holmes said in blistering heat at a charity flag-football event on Roosevelt Island. "I'm just stating the facts that the season starts soon and I don't want to do anything to jeopardize myself for being ready for the season."

Holmes suffered a LisFranc injury last October -- a Grade 4 injury, the most severe kind. He underwent two surgeries, the latter in February to remove screws that were inserted in the initial operation.

He acknowledged its severity, saying "it's really difficult to learn how to walk again. You don't realize what you have until it's gone. To lose a ligament and have separation in your joints and have screws placed in there, it takes a while to get back into the swing of things."

Holmes said LisFranc injuries have been known to "shut down careers." But he said he never thought his career was in jeopardy. Holmes, wearing a compression sleeve on his lower left leg, seemed to be walking gingerly as he mingled with fans Saturday on an artificial-turf field.

"It's been getting better," he said. "We've been making great progress every day. That's all the coaches and trainers are looking for -- continue to make great progress and not have any setbacks."

The Jets are counting on Holmes because he's their top playmaker, but they're prepared for the likelihood that he will miss time in camp. That will pose a challenge because they're installing a new system. It also could hurt his chemistry with rookie Geno Smith -- if he wins the starting job.

Holmes, who has publicly backed Mark Sanchez in the past, stayed away from any bold comments on the anticipated quarterback competition. Asked if he'd be surprised if Smith wins the job, Holmes replied, "If Rex (Ryan) loves him, we have to love him."