A big part of the Jets’ red-zone offense could be missing on Sunday night as, for the second-straight day, wide receiver Plaxico Burress was held out practice with a lower back issue Thursday.
The Burress injury is following the same pattern as this time last week, when he was a game-time decision and ended up playing against the Bills.
“He’s a weapon that people have to account for. Whenever he’s playing that well and people are accounting for him, it opens up so much other stuff for so many other guys,” running back LaDainian Tomlinson said.
On Thursday afternoon, Burress told the media he expects to practice Friday and be ready for Sunday.
But still, the sight of little-used wide receiver Patrick Turner running with the first team just two days before their biggest game of the season was an unsettling thing for Jets fans.
With Burress in the lineup, New York’s red-zone offense was suddenly formidable.
“We’re getting down there; we’re getting more touchdowns than we did last year. Now it’s a matter of taking care of the ball. I can’t give one to the other team like last week against the Bills. That would have been at least a gimme field goal, if not a touchdown. That’s a second-down play. You don’t do that. So, we can even be better,” Sanchez said. “That’s where the emphasis is for me this week, is finishing drives. You want to keep converting on third down, keep getting completions on stuff, but in the red zone, we’ve got to finish.”
Head coach Rex Ryan points to this past offseason, where the focus of the coaching staff was on improving in the red zone. Ryan looked at the things other top red-zone scoring teams did to punch the ball into the end zone and the Jets have adapted some of those principles. Sanchez has also been meeting with his receivers before practice to discuss timing and routes.
“That’s where games are won. I think our team’s done a great job with making adjustments that way. Each week, whether it’s a penalty issue or something like that. If we put an emphasis on that, our team and players really take it to heart and they take it seriously,” Sanchez said. “So, they knew the coaches were stressing that and we’ve all just kind of tightened up our game a little bit and really emphasize it and it’s paid off.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer for injury updates right up until kickoff Sunday night.