Any bad blood between New York Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes and quarterback Mark Sanchez was put to rest as the dynamic duo settle their differences over dinner during the offseason. One thing neither player saw coming was the acquisition of quarterback Tim Tebow, which according to Holmes shocked the Jets' franchise signal-caller.
"I think since day one it was a focus that kind of rattled him a little," Holmes told reporters regarding Sanchez reaction to the Tebow trade. "And I use that word only to say, ‘Wow, how did this happen?' And those were words that came out of his mouth. But I think he understands now that his role is to be the New York Jets starting quarterback, and Tebow is here to help us win as many games as he can help us win."
Mark Sanchez and Santonio Holmes at a New York Knicks game this past spring
New York's coaching staff issued Sanchez a vote of confidence this offseason by awarding him a three-year contract extension on the heels of a disappointing 2011 campaign. Then, merely ten days later, Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum announced the team had traded for Tebow sending shockwaves throughout the sporting world. While Sanchez for one was very surprised by the move, he's been working alongside the former Heisman Trophy winner during training camp and the preseason for the betterment of the team.
"Spending time with Mark, I think he's more focused this season," noted Holmes of his quarterback's mentality entering the season. "He's excited in (redeeming) himself from what he did last year. We're excited for him because the things that we've been seeing from the OTA's and even during the offseason, before OTA's came about, that he had a different focus for the season. I'm going to ride with him until the end. That was the reason for me signing back with the New York Jets. Because I knew having a young quarterback, there was a lot of room to grow (with) him, and us as a team, and for our chemistry to be better."
Chemistry was a hot button issue for the Jets last season with Holmes taking center stage and earning a reputation as a divisive force in the locker room. New York's front office brought Tebow into the fold, in part to help promote team camaraderie, but also to challenge Sanchez to elevate his level of play.
"He's honestly handling the situation the way a starting quarterback really should handle the situation, that this is his team," added Holmes. "He was signed to the New York Jets as a first-round draft pick to be the guy and he has to continue believing in himself. That's what he's been doing."
Both Holmes and Sanchez have turned the page from a drama-filled 2011 season and are intent on rekindling the connection that lifted Gang Green to the doorstep of a Super Bowl berth just two years ago. As for Holmes' expectations for this upcoming season, New York's explosive wide receiver is eager to get the ball rolling in 2012.
"We'll find out on Sunday," stated Holmes. "We'll find out just how much we've been putting (it) together throughout the offseason, spending time in the meeting room, just phone calls and conversations throughout the week, just to stay up on top of each other. I think it's going to be pretty exciting for us."
Rick Laughland covers the New York Jets for Greenandwhitereport.com
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