Santonio Holmes hedging on Week 1

Updated: August 28, 2013, 12:40 PM ET
By Matt Ehalt | Special to ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan is optimistic the team will have Santonio Holmes in the season opener against Tampa Bay on Sept. 8.

The wide receiver doesn't share that same enthusiasm.

Fresh off returning to practice, Holmes once again downplayed Tuesday the possibility of him returning for the season opener. The Jets activated Holmes off the PUP list on Friday, meaning they expect to have him in the first six weeks, and Holmes had limited practices on Monday and Tuesday.

"That's coach's decision. Doctors still have to continue to evaluate me," Holmes said about the opener. "It's been a long process. I've come a long way up to this point and can't put any timetable on it.

[+] EnlargeSantonio Holmes
William Perlman/USA TODAY SportsThough now able to run routes, Santonio Holmes says he still "can't put any timetable" on his return.

"Just because of my progress of doing something to your guys' attention, [it] doesn't really boost the trainer's push for me to be on the field right away."

Holmes cast further doubt on a possible debut in the season opener by saying that he's a "long ways" away from being 100 percent, detailing that he has to relearn how to run routes and plant his foot while also defeating coverages. When asked about playing at 75 percent, Holmes made it clear he's not going to sacrifice himself to rush back.

"I have a long career ahead of me," Holmes said. "I'm going to take the best risk and the best chances for myself and for the team."

The veteran receiver said the pain in his surgically repaired left foot is on and off, and he's receiving treatment three to four times a day, as well as taking medication. Holmes suffered a Lisfranc fracture on Sept. 30, 2012 against the 49ers and missed the rest of the season, and had corresponding surgery and a follow-up procedure.

Holmes surprisingly was activated off the PUP list on Friday, and he called that an "up top decision," referring to the team's decision makers. Before the Jets faced the Giants on Saturday, Holmes did some route running, the only time he's done that thus far. He said there was some soreness afterward, but was excited to be out there.

His practices have thus far been limited as Ryan said that the team is phasing Holmes back in after his lengthy rehab process. Holmes said he's progressing but has to continue working on his conditioning.

"Just getting out, getting in the groove of things. Getting a feel for what I can and can't do right now," Holmes said of practicing. "Going to keep that to a minimum and steadily make good progress from there."

As Holmes has downplayed his possible return, it has at times appeared to contradict the message the team has delivered. After Holmes gave no indication last week about possibly being ready for the opener, the team activated him from the PUP list shortly after. Tuesday, Ryan expressed his optimism about having his No. 1 receiver against the Buccaneers only for Holmes to cool the momentum.

"He knows himself better than anybody. What I've observed, I think he's in great shape, I really do," Ryan said. "I was being truthful when I said that. I'm not trying to hold anything back. I believe that he's in phenomenal shape. I saw him run, he looked pretty good to me.

"I'm optimistic about it. We'll see. Obviously the young man has to sign off before anybody plays. ... We're not going to put a player ever at risk. So we'll see."

Holmes said that he is not downplaying his injury, and repeated his "looks can be deceiving" comment from last week regarding what the media sees from him compared to how he's actually faring.

"Looks are deceiving and that can be in any way possible that it can look one way but to me it's not the same," Holmes said. "What you see is what you see and what you get out of it and not what I see and what you get out of it."

The Jets need Holmes on the outside as they already have one of the weakest receiving units in the NFL. If Holmes can't go, the team's top outside threat will be unproven second-year receiver Stephen Hill, who has struggled to catch the ball. Jeremy Kerley operates out of the slot.

Holmes did acknowledge that he'd like to be able to suit up against the Buccaneers, who acquired former teammate Darrelle Revis during the offseason.

"Still looking forward to that day," Holmes said of the opener. "And when it comes, hopefully I'm ready."

Matt Ehalt is a frequent contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.

Matt Ehalt

ESPN New York contributor

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