FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Plaxico Burress lined up on the practice field, ran a route and watched as a pass to him from Mark Sanchez fell incomplete.
He was hoping Rex Ryan wouldn’t notice.
“I was trying to sneak in,” the New York Jets wide receiver said with a big grin, “but me being 6-5, it didn’t work out too well.”
Burress made his debut for the Jets in 11-on-11 team drills Sunday after being limited to being mostly a spectator since he signed a week ago. He rolled his left ankle running routes with Santonio Holmes last Wednesday, and had only been doing light work during the morning walkthroughs.
For the afternoon practice, Burress was eager to get back out there after a few years away that included a 20-month stint in prison on a gun charge.
“The plan was just for me to go through individuals and I stole a couple of team plays,” he said, smiling. “I tried to sneak in there and Rex basically told me, ‘Hey, this is a good start and we don’t want any setbacks.’ So if they wouldn’t have taken me out, I would have kept on going. It’s my first time out there in a couple of years and it just felt good to kind of get back in a gr oove. But Rex shut me down.”
Burress was in uniform for Friday’s afternoon practice, as he was Thursday, but mostly as a sideline spectator. After a day off Saturday, Burress was able to do a little more on the field.
“I really want to go slow because he’s feeling great, but if you have him go through this and there’s a setback,” Ryan said, “then it may cost you two weeks.”
Burress said he was on the field for team drills for “one or two plays” and hopes that number increases during the next few practices.
“I didn’t think Rex was paying attention,” he said. “He kind of surprised me with how sharp he was. I just wanted to get out there. I think they all understand, my teammates, (I’m) in there getting rehab two, three, four times a day, working hard to get back on the football field because it’s something I miss, I love and I just want to get back out there. They kind of have the reins a little bit, but that’s cool also.”
Burress knew he’d give it a chance when he woke up Sunday morning and the ankle felt pretty good after an extra acupuncture session on Saturday. He’s hoping to be ready in time to play in the preseason opener at Houston next Monday night.
“I don’t see why not,” he said. “If they give me the nod to go, I’m definitely going to get out there. If anybody needs all the work that they can get, it’s me. I definitely want to get out there and definitely want to get my feet wet.”
Burress has said he anticipates having some rust after having such a long layoff from football. He pleaded guilty in August 2009 to attempted criminal possession of a weapon after accidentally shooting himself in the thigh at a Manhattan nightclub in November 2008, accepting a two-year prison term. He was released about three months early for good behavior, but will be on parole for two years.
“I’m just trying to get comfortable,” Burress said. “I’m anxious to get started and hopefully the next couple of days, I’ll be able to put a couple of full practices together back-to-back.”