Plaxico Burress: “I just hope that I’m the piece to the puzzle that can get these guys over the hump”

August 11, 2011 – 9:50 am by Chris Fedor

It was just four years ago when Jets wide receiver Plaxico Burress had his coming out party in the playoffs and looked ready to rejoin the class of elite wide receivers. Burress was unstoppable against the Green Bay Packers and helped lead the New York Giants to a Super Bowl. Shortly after that, Burress’ career took a turn for the worse. Not only did he struggle through injuries following one of the best seasons of his career, but he also ended up shooting himself in the leg in a Manhattan nightclub and going to prison until he was released this year.

Now Burress is back in the NFL and getting a second chance to turn his career and his life around. After getting looks from a number of teams around the league, Burress decided to chase another ring by joining the Jets. While he boosts the receiving core in New York and will be a nice target for young quarterback Mark Sanchez, it’s a very risky decision by Burress. As he continues to try and get his life back in order, he decided to go right back to the city where all of his turmoil started to begin. The talent has always been there with Burress, but it will be up to him and only him to decide what kind of weapon he will be in New York and how much he makes of his second chance.

Plaxico Burress joined ESPN Radio New York with Michael Kay to talk about how he feels playing football again, whether or not he ever lost hope, how his ankle is feeling, what he thinks of Mark Sanchez, how much it helps playing against the Jets defense every day, and if he thinks the Jets have the look of a Super Bowl team.

How he feels to be back playing football:

“It’s just an overjoyed feeling everyday being able to come out here and get back to playing football, something that I love to do. I’m just rededicating myself and I’m recommitted to just come out here, work hard every day, and just having the opportunity to be able to come out and play in this league everyday it’s more of an honor. I’m just happy to be here.”

Whether or not he ever lost hope:

“No. Never. (Host: That drove you?) Of course. I had a lot of support from fans all around the world. Japan, Thailand, and places that you wouldn’t even know people knew who you were and had a lot of love out there. They were definitely some of the people that kept me motivated to getting back to playing in this league and I knew that one day if I just kept in pretty good shape and kept working hard that I would be able to play again.”

How his ankle is feeling:

“It feels pretty good. Going more and more each day getting as many reps as I can. Rex kinda has the reins on me a little bit, he doesn’t want me to get out there and have any further setbacks. I’m just taking it one day at a time, it’s nothing serious, it’s just a minor sprain and for me to be able to come out here the second day after it happened it says a lot about our medical staff and the things they’re doing to get me back on the football field.”

On what he has seen from Mark Sanchez:

“He’s a good person to be around, he’s passionate about what he does, he understand this offense and I really believe he’s going to take his talents to an elite level this year. That’s definitely one of the reasons I became a Jet. I wanted to play with him. I just see great things from him. As far as Mark, we’re working hard every day the reps we’re getting. It’s only going to be a matter of time before we’re throwing on air and everything is just clicking.”

How much it helps him going up against the Jets defense everyday in practice:

“Wow. I mean what people don’t understand is that I’m out here every day and I get to play against the best corner in the world every single day. There’s nothing better for me than to go out and work against Darrelle Revis and (Antonio) Cromartie. This defense, they fly around and give us looks that we won’t see during the season. As far as Revis is concerned, we won’t see a better corner all year round. It’s good for us as receivers to be able to play against that defense knowing that we won’t play against a better defense all year and if we can go out and have some success against them during training camp then we’re heading in the right direction.”

Whether or not the Jets are a Super Bowl contender:

“It’s one of the reasons I came here. I’ve sat here and watched this team come through the ranks over the past few years with the level they’re playing at and get to the Championship two years in a row and not being able to get over that hump. I understand the mentality is every day you come into the building is to win a championship, nothing less. I love it, it’s contagious, guys are buying into it, and guys are working hard to get to that point. I just hope that I’m the piece to the puzzle that can get these guys over the hump. Not just to get there but to win a world championship. We have everything intact, it’s just about us going out and executing and playing hard-nosed football.”

How he feels after such a long layoff:

“Actually I feel a little bit better. I was able to heal up the shoulder, I had the MCL and the PCL on my knee, the chronic ankle that I had, the tendon was able to heal up. Other than the minor sprain I feel like I got a little bounce back in my step. Just being hungry, just having my legs be able to be fresh and things like that. I’m just ready to get out there. I know my quarterback is excited and we just want to get out there and get on the same page and just go out and take our passing game to the next level, whatever that may be.”

Listen to Plaxico Burress on ESPN Radio New York here

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