Rex encouraged by progress of WR Holmes

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The momentum continues to build toward Santonio Holmes playing in the New York Jets' season opener Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The veteran wide receiver, 11 months removed from surgery to repair a severe Lisfranc foot injury, stepped up his practice load Monday. Team drills are closed to the media, but Holmes "was able to do a few things today. That was encouraging to me," Jets coach Rex Ryan said.

Holmes wasn't available to comment. In previous interviews, he has expressed less optimism than most people, noting he still feels pain in his foot. Also keep in mind the schedule -- the Jets face the New England Patriots four days after the opener, a tough turnaround for a player coming off a major injury. For that reason, Holmes could decide to wait until the New England game to make his debut.

"I've said from Day 1, I hope he plays," Ryan said. "I think Holmes is a difference-maker as a player. I don't think there's any doubt that he is. I've said all along that I hope he plays. That's it. My opinion really doesn't matter until the doctors and trainers give you a thumb's-up, and he's ready to go or he's not."