It wasn’t “home sweet home” for Plaxico Burress as the Jets wide receiver faced his old team for the first time following his release from a two-year prison sentence.
Burress didn’t register a single catch after being targeted four times by quarterback Mark Sanchez in the Jets third preseason game of the year on Monday night at MetLife Stadium, a game which was listed as a home game for the Giants.
For Burress, who last played for the Giants in late Nov. 2008, it had to be a disappointment, even as his new team beat his old one 17-3.
“I think we all got off to a slow start,” Burress said. “We have to be sharper, better.”
The Jets showed a bit of gamesmanship during the coin toss, sending Burress out alone against the Giants' two game captains. When Jets head coach Rex Ryan announced the Jets' captains three weeks ago, Burress was not one of the five players named.
Burress wouldn’t admit to any extra emotions as he walked towards the middle of the field to face representatives from his old team.
“My goal was to not lose the toss,” Burress said when asked by Metro about his emotions. “But it felt good for Rex to choose me as a captain, to go out there by myself and represent this team and the organization.”
Now with the Jets, Burress is in a place where he is wanted and perhaps has a support network to let him thrive again. There is plenty for him to overcome, though.
The wide receiver, who accidentally shot himself in the leg during the incident nearly three years ago, was sentenced to time behind bars for carrying a concealed weapon into a New York City nightclub. Burress never played for the Giants again. He left behind a team that had just won the Super Bowl and looked like potential contenders bound for another title with a 10-1 mark.
After the arrest, the Giants finished the regular season 2-3 and then lost to Philadelphia in the divisional round of the playoffs. That was all water under the bridge for Burress’ old teammates.
“You know Plaxico, he’s going to have a big year for them,” said Giants defensive end Justin Tuck. “I’m just glad to have our corners go up and get some work against a guy like that; you know, a 6’5 guy.”
Monday night was more fizzle than splash from Burress, who had three catches for 66 yards and a touchdown in his first preseason game last week. Burress didn’t get thrown to in the Jets' first series and didn’t get a chance at the ball until the game’s fifth play -- a poorly timed effort from Sanchez -- which appeared to misfire due to miscommunication. Then on their third possession and facing a third-and-7, Burress failed to get separation on Aaron Ross on what seemed like a catchable ball against the sparsely-used cornerback.
“He didn’t get too many balls thrown his way this time, but I am pretty sure that as the season on, him and Sanchez will get on the same page and start to make plays together,” Burress said. “I mean, he’s just a great player. I know he still has it in him.”
But there was a bright spot for Burress, even with the zero catches in the box score clearly tainting any contributions. On Sanchez’s 17-yard touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes late in the second quarter, Burress drew away Giants strong safety Kenny Phillips and at least one other defender on the play. This allowed Sanchez to hit Holmes squarely over the middle for a touchdown.
“I think they got miscombobulated (sic) with the motion,” Burress said. “I was hoping to take a couple guys [with me]. I think I did.”
But despite the little things that Burress did for the Jets and even more than the fact that he didn’t register a single reception against his old team, it was still a special night for a player who caught the game-winning touchdown in Super Bowl XLII.
“It felt good. It felt good to see some of the guys and coaches and different things,” Burress said. “It was just pretty good to see everybody and shake their hands and have some good laughs and memories like that.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer for updates all season long.