New York Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes made waves less than two weeks ago when he cut short his participation in the team's final OTA practice and had what was reported as a "mini-meltdown" that included an exchange with first-year receivers coach Sanjay Lal.
Holmes had missed most of the team's OTAs to take part in a USO tour in Germany and felt like he was being pushed a bit too hard in his first practice back with the team. Since Holmes has been a lightning rod for criticism, from both the media and his teammates, during and after the team's disappointing 8-8 season in 2011, any appearance of a temper tantrum from him was going to be a big deal.
"Honestly, it was complete shock to me that this was being reported,â Lal said, according to a Monday report from Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. "Every day in every practice, I make it a point to tell the receivers -- because they run so much -- you have to keep them healthy. Thereâs an open book in our room: If you feel any muscle issue, weâre going to err on the side of caution, especially in June. Thereâs no point getting hurt in June.
"So, a receiver coming to the coach and saying, âHey, my hammyâs tight. Hold me down to short routes. Can you space out my routes more today?â Thatâs done every day. ... So I really didnât understand what the whole story was about. It was no different than two other receivers on that same day saying the same thing to me."
Though they've only just briefly worked together, Holmes has left a favorable impression on Lal, who described, in detail, a play Holmes made during an OTA practice.
"It was press coverage," Lal said. "'Tone fought the press off. He burst to his exact route depth that he was supposed to get to. He was supposed to get to 15 yards and he was pinpoint accurate on that. He snapped off, made a great catch and turned up field. If you rewind the film, Mark (Sanchez) threw the ball when 'Tone was at 13 yards. 'Tone runs a full two more yards with (Darrelle) Revis all over him and then breaks when the ball was in the air.
" ... For 'Tone to go those extra two yards, fight off and make a great catch -- and for Mark to trust him and throw it when he was at 13 yards -- is huge. â¦ 'Tone doing that solidified every opinion I had of him, positively. And thatâs the standard heâll be held to."