Jets’ Holmes practices for 1st time since ban

Santonio Holmes arrived at the Jets’ facility before the sun

even rose, eager to get his day started.

After not practicing for four weeks due to a suspension, the

wide receiver was downright antsy to be on the field again

Wednesday. Even if it was only 6 a.m.

”I was a little upbeat this morning,” he said. ”I was up

early, walking the dog, got myself situated, driving to practice

ready to go. I sat in meetings at attention. Everything was a

little bit different.”

Holmes, acquired from Pittsburgh in April, is expected to make

his regular-season debut for the Jets on Monday night against the

Minnesota Vikings. He was forced to sit the first four

regular-season games by the NFL for violating the league’s

substance abuse policy.

”I’m ready to get the season started for myself,” he said.

While he hadn’t practiced since camp ended, Holmes was able to

attend meetings during his suspension. He used the rest of the time

to stay in shape – not to reflect on what he had done to put him in

that situation.

”To look in your eyes and be honest with you, not 1 percent,”

Holmes said. ”I’ve been the same person since I stepped foot in

the NFL. I’ll continue being the same person until I leave. I

didn’t have anything to think about. Everything was already done in

the process. It’s time to play football now.”

The former Super Bowl MVP came to the Jets with some off-field

issues other than the suspension. He was arrested in 2008 for

possession of marijuana and involved in a domestic violence

incident in 2006; the misdemeanor charges were later dismissed.

Holmes said those incidents had no impact on his performance on

the field.

”I made it to the Super Bowl and won it, didn’t I?” Holmes

said. ”That’s all I had to do with myself. I didn’t have anything

to think about. I’m a football player. What happens off the field

happens off the field. It doesn’t affect anything I do or what I’m

capable of doing.”

Holmes will join an offense that has already been solid through

four games, with Mark Sanchez throwing eight touchdown passes and

no interceptions.

”I think he’s going to be a huge thing for us,” coach Rex Ryan

said. ”He looks like he hasn’t missed a beat. He looked

good.”

Not that being away was easy for Holmes.

”It’s a totally different mindset,” he said. ”You can’t be in

the same mindset as a player. It’s tough, you know, being an

outcast.”

He was welcomed by his teammates and coaches whenever he was at

the facility, when he wasn’t working out in Florida for four hours

a day. Holmes still needed to think of himself as someone who

wasn’t a true part of the team.

”It’s a mindset that I had to use,” Holmes said, ”that I’m

not playing, can’t think like I’m on the field yet. Go to meetings,

learn and keep moving.”

He isn’t concerned where he’ll be used on the field. Holmes is

just happy to be back, as are his teammates.

”He’s just somebody who has big-play potential,” Sanchez said.

”He catches an underneath route and has the ability to run by

people. He’ll be perfect for our group.”

Once he got back on the field, it didn’t take him long to feel

comfortable.

”It’s football,” he said. ”I’ve been doing this since I was 7

years old. It’s not like I became a professional football player

yesterday or five years ago. I’ve been playing ball since I was a

kid. I’ve learned the ins and outs, the ups and downs of the game.

The media, the different aspects, whatever it is, I’m on top of

everything.”