Too often, New York Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes has gotten more attention for his attitude than his play.
In 2012, Holmes is trying to change all that.
Now the veteran of the Jets’ receiving corps, Santonio Holmes is trying to let his play do the talking now. With new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano at the helm, he may get the chance to do that.
Holmes’ well-documented frustrations at the end of the 2011 season stemmed from not being afforded enough opportunities to make plays for his team.
You could argue that the Jets misused Holmes, or at the very least did not use him as effectively as the Pittsburgh Steelers did during his time there that included a Super Bowl MVP award.
Some of that, of course, was due to the inconsistent play of quarterback Mark Sanchez. But most of it was the ineffective offensive coordinating of Brian Schottenheimer.
In addition to replacing Schottenheimer with Sparano, the Jets also replaced former wide receivers coach Henry Ellard with former Oakland Raiders receivers coach Sanjay Lal.
Lal has experience working with young receivers, having done so the past few years in Oakland, and he’s excited to have the opportunity to mold a receiving corps out of the young wideouts in New York.
“I’m confident that the top 3 or 4 receivers we keep will make a name for themselves,” Lal said.
While it’s been widely assumed that second-year man Jeremy Kerley has the inside track at the starting slot receiver job, that is far from set in stone.
Head coach Rex Ryan hasn’t been pleased with what he’s seen from Kerley so far in camp, and Lal indicated recently that that slot receiver job is up for grabs, with every receiver in camp getting a fair shot at it.
“The hope is that let’s have a free competition,” Lal said. “Whoever rises, takes it. … We’re going to put the best three on the field, whoever that may be.”
With rookie Stephen Hill competing with veteran Chaz Schilens for a starting receiver job opposite Holmes, the Jets could get creative when it comes to their three receiver sets.
If Hill and Schilens show that they’re capable of playing the outside receiver positions, that could enable Holmes to play the slot, where he’s excelled at times in his NFL career.
Heck, at this stage of training camp, even Antonio Cromartie could be in the mix.
Holmes played primarily on the outside last year, but he’s talented enough to play anywhere in the formation, and that versatility makes him a dangerous weapon in the passing game.
Putting Santonio Holmes in the slot would be an intriguing way to allow him to make plays in space, and challenge opposing defenses to adjust.
If Schilens, who played under Lal in Oakland, and Hill can handle the outside, Jeremy Kerley may be seeing less snaps than we expected.
Kerley’s performance may be the X-factor in how much we see Holmes in the slot, as Kerley is arguably best suited for the slot and showed a knack for being clutch last season when called upon.
However, 2012 is a new year, and if the Jets want to put their best receivers on the field, it’s noteworthy that Santonio Holmes is more than capable of playing inside as a slot receiver.
Just another thing for opposing defenses to think about.
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