Ankle tweak forces new Jets WR Burress to miss practice

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Plaxico Burress must wait a little longer before he makes his New York Jets practice debut.

The newly signed wide receiver will be sidelined for a day or two after he tweaked his left ankle while running routes with Santonio Holmes on Wednesday without anyone throwing to him or defending him.

"It's nothing serious," Burress said Thursday. "I know it's going to be one of those things where, to everybody else on the outside it's going to be this huge thing, but it's just a little swelling."

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Burress was expected to take the field for the first time Thursday once the collective bargaining agreement was ratified, which would allow newly signed players to practice. Burress, who served 20 months in prison on a gun charge, was signed Sunday and has been watching training-camp practices from the sideline since Monday.

"I was just running routes, just trying to stay sharp and kind of rolled it a little bit," Burress said. "I can go, but they are pulling me back a little bit and they are telling me to just take it easy, 'Let the swelling go down and we'll get you out there.' "

Burress joined his teammates in uniform for the first time during the afternoon practice, wearing his familiar No. 17. But he was just a spectator, and for quarterback Mark Sanchez, it was like having a new car he can't drive yet.

"I was kind of just staring at it in the dealer window," Sanchez said, smiling. "It was like, 'Oh, yeah. That looks nice.' He's just got a little flat tire right now. Nothing big. He'll bounce back, and he'll be ready to play."

The ankle isn't the same one that Burress had chronic tendon problems with when he played for the New York Giants.

"When I did it, I kept running routes," Burress said of the latest injury. "Maybe when I tweaked it, I should have iced it at that point. But maybe me just keeping working and keeping going made it a little bit worse. I woke up this morning and had a little swelling, and they just told me to shut it down for a day or two."

Burress didn't appear to be limping or hindered by the injury at all, saying he could practice if he was allowed to and "without a doubt" would play if the Jets had a regular-season game. Ryan added that the team wants to be cautious and make sure Burress is ready to go for the team's season opener against the Dallas Cowboys on Sept. 11.

"We all want to see him," Ryan said. "But we have to do what's best for him."

Burress, who turns 34 on Aug. 12, caught the winning touchdown pass in the Giants' upset of the unbeaten New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII in 2008, but his career derailed after he accidentally shot himself in the thigh at a Manhattan nightclub that November.

Burress pleaded guilty in August 2009 to attempted criminal possession of a weapon, accepting a two-year prison term. He was released about three months early for good behavior, but he will be on parole for two years.

The Jets signed Burress to a one-year deal worth $3.017 million fully guaranteed, without even seeing him practice.

"It's a little frustrating, but I say to myself everything that I've been through, I've learned so much patience and just let everything take its course," Burress said of the setback. "Nobody wants to get out there more than me."

Burress said he was confident he'd be able to become a top receiver again despite the long layoff. He worked out with NFL quarterbacks such as Matthew Stafford and Byron Leftwich in South Florida after he was released from prison.

"I think everybody is going to be in for a surprise when I get back out there," Burress said. "I just can't wait to see what everybody is going to be saying in a couple of days. I think everybody is going to be changing their tune up."

Burress has said he expects to be a little rusty when he first returns, but he isn't concerned about missing any extra time that could help him develop a rapport with Sanchez.

"I'm a quarterback-friendly receiver," Burress said. "I'm a guy with a lot of range. You don't have to be accurate to get the ball to me. Just put it in a place where I can at least make a play on it and catch the ball. I think when we get out there, we will develop a relationship and it will be quick."

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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