Holmes and Hunter must play better

New York Jets receiver Santonio Holmes and right tackle Wayne Hunter have made peace. The two are together again for the first time since their blowup in the regular-season finale against the Miami Dolphins.

The slate is clean, according to Hunter. That’s all good. But the reality is none of it matters unless both players can erase a disastrous 2011.

Holmes and Hunter must play better to stay together. The Jets proved last season how combustible their locker room can become when the team underachieves.

There were divisions between the offense, which struggled, and New York's top-five defense. There were divisions between Holmes and quarterback Mark Sanchez. Obviously, there also was a division between Hunter and Holmes, who were at the center of New York's implosion during the final week of the regular season.

Both players have a lot to prove. Holmes must return to the great playmaker and former Super Bowl MVP he was with the Pittsburgh Steelers. When focused, Holmes is one of the most dynamic receivers in the NFL. I've seen it time and time again with Pittsburgh, and early on with the Jets.

Hunter also must prove he's a starting right tackle in the NFL. He was pushed around too much last year. Although Holmes got heat for his lack of focus, Hunter's poor pass protection on the edge was just as big a reason New York's passing offense sputtered.

But it's good Holmes and Hunter are saying the right things. Both players genuinely want to win and have a lot to prove. However, their actions on the field this fall will speak louder than their words in the offseason.