FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Barring a setback before Sunday, wide receiver Santonio Holmes is expected to play a limited role in the New York Jets' season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a league source said Thursday.
Holmes, who missed the preseason as he continued to rehab from surgery to repair a severe Lisfranc injury in his left foot, has been working his way back slowly. He didn't practice Thursday, but that was planned ahead of time, according to coach Rex Ryan.
The former Super Bowl MVP has been limited in practice for about a week, but he's running full speed and cutting hard. Ryan said Holmes looks good and expressed optimism that he'll play.
"We'll make sure we have the absolute clearance from our doctors and our trainers before we do that ... but as I've said all along, I certainly hope he plays," Ryan said. "I thought he caught the ball well [Wednesday] and I thought he moved around pretty well."
Holmes hasn't played a game in 11 months -- Week 4 last season -- so he will be on a play count against the Bucs. The Jets likely will use him on third down, joining Stephen Hill and Jeremy Kerley in the three-receiver package.
On Wednesday, Holmes was noncommittal about his chance of playing, saying it would be up to the doctors. He has been sending mixed signals throughout his entire rehab process, refusing to give a specific timetable.
Holmes said he's not 100 percent, saying he still feels pain in his foot every morning. But he also said, "Honestly, I feel pretty good about the things I've tried to do thus far."
He's a hard guy to figure out.
"Santonio sure is a confident man, isn't he?" offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said, smiling. "You understand he's one of my favorites because of that great confidence. He's been limited and he's worked diligently to get back for this opening game, so we'll see on that."
Holmes' teammates expect him to play, and they could use him, especially with rookie Geno Smith at quarterback. The Jets are short on playmakers, and Holmes is their most accomplished player on offense.
Holmes likely would be covered by former Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis, making for a compelling subplot. They suffered season-ending injuries last year within seven days of each other.
Despite a surgically repaired knee, Revis still commands great respect from his former team. Ryan said the Jets have no plans to test him.
"We know him too well," Ryan said. "That might be some team's philosophy, but I don't think that's going to be our philosophy."