Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes spoke voluntarily with the New York media via conference call following the first day of workouts at the team’s facility in what amounted to a defense of his actions last year. It was the first time that Holmes addressed the media following a 2011 season that was disastrous for both himself and his team.
Holmes was defiant when asked if he had
contact with any teammates he may have criticized or offended.
“I had no reason to,” Holmes said. “I didn’t reach out to anybody this offseason for that matter.”
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For much of last season, Holmes was critical of his teammates, in particular calling out the offensive line and quarterback Mark Sanchez for what he perceived to be a lack of passes thrown his direction.
Holmes, often pinpointed as the most divisive figure in the Jets locker room, said the 2011 season is in the past and that Sanchez had reached out to him to heal the rift. Both players, along with tight end Dustin Keller and wide receiver Patrick Turner, were in Florida last week working out together ahead of this week’s voluntary workouts.
“I think it more shows the leadership part of Mark. He’s portraying those leadership qualities of being the guy that’s going to be here awhile, by reaching out to me, wanting to come and spend time with me, just chit-chatting and put everything behind us. I think it was a great thing for he and I to establish,” Holmes said.
“We’re looking forward to bigger and better things this year. We’re both competitive football players and we can make the best out of every situation. And we’re going to do that this year.”
Head coach Rex Ryan admitted on Monday that he had spoken with Holmes several times before the season ended, even so far as to trying to meet with him at his Florida home prior to the NFL owner’s meeting last month. Ryan said that Holmes and his Jet teammates are “excited about the 2012 season.”
Rather than pin the blame on the divisive Holmes, Ryan painted the dour locker room as systemic of an 8-8 season.
“I think all us, when you don’t meet your expectations, it kills you,” Ryan said.
“There’s things that you look at. It’s unfortunate we had a lot of time to go back and analyze -- I know I did myself -- where I can go back and improve the mistakes I made. It never went the way we wanted it to. We fell short. When you do that, you really look at things. As talented as we were individually, we never got it done.”
Last season was a disappointment for Holmes, whose 51 catches was the second-lowest of his six seasons in the NFL. His 654 receiving yards were a career low.
The last time Holmes was seen on the field, he was involved in a verbal altercation in the huddle and was benched during a Week 17 loss to Miami. Even though this was the first time Holmes had addressed the media since that incident, he grew testy over questions concerning the incident.
He knew he was coming back to play with the Jets and never doubted it because “I signed a five-year contract.”
“Last season was a blur for all of us; a lot of things didn’t go the way we had planned. We had a system that was in place for a few years and we relied on everything that was going to work with that plan that we’ve had and things fell apart for our team,” Holmes said.
“But this year we’re looking forward to picking back up, getting back into the playoffs and believing in the Rex Ryan system.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.