FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Plaxico Burress knew he wasn't supposed to participate in team drills. The New York Jets' trainers wanted him to rest his left ankle for another day, but after two years without catching a pass from an NFL quarterback as a member of an NFL team, Burress quietly ducked into the first 11-on-11 team drill.
"I was trying to sneak in, but me being (6-foot-5) it didn't work out too well," Burress said.
Jets coach Rex Ryan watched as Mark Sanchez rolled out to his left and targeted the lanky guy wearing No. 17, but a defensive end got inside and the throw didn't quite get to Burress. Afterward Ryan, not exactly the cautious type, told Burress to knock it off.
"He basically told me 'Hey, it was a good start, we don't want any setbacks,'" Burress said. "If they wouldn't have took me out, I would've kept on going. It was my first time out there in a couple years. It just felt good to kind of get back in the groove but Rex shut me down."
Burress said he didn't tell the trainers exactly how sore he was afterward or complain about feeling winded. He expects things will just feel that way until he gets back into football shape.
The Jets are taking a gamble on Burress as it is. His resume may include a Super Bowl-winning catch for the Giants, but it also included a two-year sentence stemming from a guilty plea on an illegal weapons charge after the receiver accidently shot himself in the leg at a Manhattan nightclub.
After so much time away from football, the Jets can't afford to have their potentially explosive, $3.5 million acquisition fizzle with a series of nagging injuries. He rolled his ankle Wednesday while running routes with Santonio Holmes during an informal workout.
"I want to proceed really cautiously here. I don't want to do too much with him," Ryan said. "But he's moving around good."
Burress could practice fully Monday, and Ryan said he thought the receiver might still be available for the first preseason game of the year on Aug. 15 in Houston. Burress said he hopes that's the case, and that he's itching to get back on the field.
"I think they all understand," Burress said. "My teammates see me getting rehab two, three, four times a day, working hard to get back on the football field. It's something that I miss, I love and I just want to get back out there. They kind of got the reins on me a little bit but that's cool. I understand where they're coming from. They don't want me to have any more setbacks from where I am."
The Jets initially said Burress would miss one or two practices, but Sunday was technically his third practice without participating in team drills. In individual drills, his routes were a little more languid than those of, say, rookies Jeremy Kerley and Scotty McKnight, but at least he was out there, back in an NFL uniform.
"To be honest," Burress said, "it just feels like I never left."
Jane McManus covers the Jets and Giants for ESPNNewYork.com.