Quarterback Mark Sanchez and wide receiver Santonio Holmes are among several Jets working out this week at ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando. The Sanchez-Holmes relationship deteriorated last season, when Holmes continually griped about the offense before getting yanked off the field and sitting alone on the bench in the fourth quarter of the Jets' loss to Miami in the regular-season finale on January 1.
Sanchez and Holmes have mostly remained out of the spotlight since then, but directed some well-timed Tweets aimed at one another in an attempt to dispel the notion their relationship was beyond repair. In early February, Holmes wrote how much he was looking forward to the 2012 season in a Tweet directed at Sanchez and Jets lineman Sione Pouha. And on Valentine's Day, Sanchez used the social media platform to ask Holmes "you want to be my Valentine?"
Of course, all the Tweets in the world won't answer whether or not Sanchez and Holmes can still work together. Perhaps they made the first real step towards mending fences by getting together with teammates such as Patrick Turner and Dustin Keller and participating in workouts overseen by Holmes' trainer, Tom Shaw.
"I know for a fact Santonio Holmes and Mark Sanchez are close," Shaw told the Newark Star-Ledger on Monday (April 9).
The group of Jets planned to work out every day this week before traveling to New Jersey, where the Jets' offseason program is scheduled to begin Monday. While the Jets' offensive players do not yet have a playbook from offensive coordinator Tony Sparano-the former Dolphins head coach who was named as Brian Schottenheimer's replacement in January-Shaw told the Star-Ledger that Sanchez was directing the offense off his own notes. Sanchez met earlier this winter with Chad Pennington, the former Jets quarterback who led the Dolphins to the AFC East title in his lone season as a starter under Sparano in Miami.
Players from multiple NFL teams participated in the workouts-Sanchez was expected to throw to receivers who were covered by the likes of Cardinals cornerback William Gay and Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor-and Shaw said he was impressed by how Sanchez took on a leadership role.
"Mark was in charge, everyone was listening to his instruction," Shaw said. "Guys from other teams too.
"Once we finished the workout for the day, Sanchez took over. He was in charge of the whole offensive part. He is working hard and he's doing everything he can to get better."
While the offseason workouts are a positive first step, the real challenge of the relationship between Sanchez and Holmes will come once training camp begins and the spotlight intensifies. Likewise, Holmes will have to work to regain the trust of teammates who felt he quit on the team at the end of last season and particularly against the Dolphins, when Holmes-who was just completing the first season of a five-year, $45 million deal-was pulled in favor of the rookie Turner.