FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Santonio Holmes is taking his comeback from a serious foot injury one step at a time.
Getting back on the practice field this week has been a major leap forward for the New York Jets wide receiver -- even if he's trying not to get anyone's hopes up.
"I was just really limited, just working on getting in the groove of things," Holmes said Tuesday. "Getting a feel for what I can and cannot not do right now. I'm going to keep that to a minimal and steadily make good progress from there."
Holmes is recovering from a serious foot injury that he suffered in Week 4 of last season. He participated at least on a limited basis in practice on both Monday and Tuesday, his first practice sessions since last September.
"We're really just phasing Santonio in right now," coach Rex Ryan said. "It's not like he's going out there every snap."
Holmes was moved to the Jets' active roster from the physically unable to perform list last Friday night, a sign that he could possibly be ready to go when the season starts on Sept. 8. The receiver, however, is tempering expectations.
"Doctors still have to continue evaluating me," he said. "It's been a long process. I've come a long way up until this point and I can't put any timetable on it. Just because of my progress (being brought to your) attention, it doesn't really boost the trainers' push for me to be on the field right away."
Two weeks ago, Holmes ran straight ahead at full speed and caught a few passes from Geno Smith in warmups before the team's preseason game against Jacksonville. Last week, he repeatedly ran short routes and planted on his foot during practice. Before the team's preseason game against the Giants last Saturday, Holmes ran routes at full speed.
He said the foot was sore Sunday, but nothing worse than he had been feeling.
Holmes suffered a Lisfranc injury, which usually involves separation of ligaments and joints in the middle of the foot, against San Francisco last September. He needed surgery to repair the injury, and then had another procedure in February to remove the screws. Holmes spoke with former Giants centre Shaun O'Hara, who dealt with a similar injury, before the game last Saturday.
"I believe that he's in phenomenal shape," Ryan said. "I saw him run. He looked pretty good to me. I'm optimistic about it. We'll see."
Before the recent progress, Holmes had spent most of the summer riding a stationary bike, using an anti-gravity treadmill and working with trainers. He said the amount of route running he did last Saturday is all he has done, and one of the major hurdles is finding the right shoe to wear on the field to help prevent any aggravation of the injury.
Holmes added that he thinks he's "a long ways" from being at his best on the field. After all, he said, he is learning how to run routes again while regaining confidence in his foot while pushing off it.
"I have a long career ahead of me," he said when asked if he'd be comfortable playing at less than 100 per cent. "So, I'm going to take the best risk and the best chances for myself and for the team."
NOTES: Ryan wouldn't say whether Geno Smith would play Thursday night against the Eagles, and refused to say who would start. "We'll announce that on gameday," Ryan said. The coach also said it's possible the team could wait until the morning of the opener against Tampa Bay to announce who the Jets' starting quarterback for the season will be. "Until we name the starting quarterback, I would say that really anything's possible because we haven't named the quarterback yet," Ryan said. "So, we'll weigh in all the factors." One of those factors is the status of Mark Sanchez, who is sidelined with an injured shoulder and was limited to a stationary bike at practice. ... CBs Antonio Cromartie (hip) and Dee Milliner (calf) won't play against the Eagles. Milliner is confident he'll be ready to play in the season opener despite missing two preseason games. "It's very disappointing," he said. "I want to be out there on the field."