"Obviously, that's a big loss for us," coach Rex Ryan said. "Santonio's one of the top receivers in the game, and it is a big loss."
And, that's quite the understatement.
The news came just over a week after star cornerback Darrelle Revis was likely lost for the season with a torn ligament in his left knee — although the Jets haven't placed him on IR yet, in case, Ryan said, he recovers in time to play in the Super Bowl.
But that leaves the Jets (2-2) now without their best players on defense and offense as they try to return to the playoffs this year after missing out last season. Ryan insisted, however, that the team's expectations have not changed.
"We have to rally around each other, for sure," Ryan said, comparing the situation in 2009 when the Jets lost nose tackle Kris Jenkins and running back Leon Washington in consecutive weeks — and still made it to the AFC championship game.
"It does test the resolve of your team, but that's one of our strengths," Ryan added. "It's unfortunate, but that's what happens."
Ryan also pointed out that, despite their struggles, the Jets still lead the AFC East with a 2-0 record in the division.
"Woe is me?" Ryan said defiantly. "How many people are going to feel sorry for the New York Jets? Myself, I know the answer to that: Nobody."
Holmes went down on the first play of the fourth quarter of the Jets' 34-0 loss to San Francisco on Sunday after catching a short pass that he tossed away for a fumble that was returned 51 yards for a touchdown by Carlos Rogers. X-rays on the foot were negative, meaning there were no broken bones, but the MRI exam results were sent to a foot specialist in North Carolina and the Jets' worst fears were confirmed.
"Thanks for the love, prayers, and support from friends and fans," Holmes wrote on his Twitter page. "Time heals all wounds."
Ryan confirmed that it is a Lisfranc injury, which usually involves a sprain or tear of the ligament in the middle of the foot that holds the first two toes together. Recovery time depends on whether there is a dislocation or fracture, and whether surgery — including screws inserted — is needed.
"My understanding is that he's going to be back and make a full recovery," Ryan said. "We have confidence he'll make a full recovery and be ready to roll next year."
Oakland wide receiver Jacoby Ford is out for the year with a similar injury, while Houston quarterback Matt Schaub and Raiders running back Darren McFadden are back after missing time last season with Lisfranc injuries. Other players have also rebounded from it, including Michael Strahan, Brian Westbrook and Ronnie Brown.
New York signed free agent wide receiver Jason Hill to help make up for the loss of Holmes. The Jets are alarmingly thin at the position with rookie Stephen Hill still recovering from a hamstring injury, leaving Chaz Schilens, Jeremy Kerley and Clyde Gates as the only healthy receivers on the roster before the move to sign Jason Hill.
Tight end Dustin Keller, one of quarterback Mark Sanchez's favorite targets, has missed a few games with a hamstring injury and is uncertain to play in the team's Monday night matchup with undefeated Houston.
Holmes leads the Jets with 20 catches for 272 yards and a touchdown this season. He and Sanchez had their best game together since 2010 two weeks ago at Miami, when Holmes caught nine passes for 147 yards.
"Obviously it's something that we wish didn't happen to one of your best players," Ryan said. "But that's, unfortunately, part of this business."
Holmes helped lead Pittsburgh to a Super Bowl victory in 2009, but fell out of favor and was traded to New York in April 2010 for a fifth-round draft pick. He played a key role in the Jets' run to their second straight AFC championship game two seasons ago. New York re-signed him to a five-year, $45 million contract in 2011, and despite his troubles last season, the Jets kept him on the roster — meaning the receiver is guaranteed $15.25 million over this and next season.
The Jets haven't ruled out signing other receivers to help, but it appears there will be no reunion with Plaxico Burress. Ryan said he had a "great" relationship with Burress, who played last season with the Jets after being released from prison, but added that they wanted to get "a little younger" and "faster," and another team will be lucky to have Burress.
Jason Hill was a third-round draft pick of San Francisco in 2007, but was waived by the 49ers in 2010 and claimed off waivers by Jacksonville, where he played the last two seasons. The speedy receiver spent the preseason with Denver before being released in August, and has 76 receptions for 1,028 yards and eight touchdowns in parts of five NFL seasons.
He was working out in New Orleans for the Saints earlier in the week when he got a call from his agent, Peter Schaffer.
"He said, 'Stop that workout there,'" Hill said. "I got here as soon as possible."
Hill made some headlines last season when he suggested that the Jets and Revis were a bit "overhyped" because of all the attention they received from the media. But then Hill was inactive for the Jaguars and didn't play against the Jets.
"He'll probably have about 10 guys jump him or something," Ryan said with a smile. "I don't know if he was working himself up to play against Revis or what, but when he didn't play, that was a little different."
Hill wasn't in a joking mood about those comments, preferring to put them behind him.
"I didn't think anything of it," he said. "I don't think our team down in Jacksonville thought anything of it. But obviously, up here you all did. But it's in the past, we're teammates now and we're going to move forward accordingly."
And that means possibly making his Jets debut Monday night, something he's planning on.
"I'm going to stay up all night learning the playbook," Hill said.
NOTES: San Francisco's Carlos Rogers said during a radio interview Monday that he thought the Jets may have quit during their game and looked like a team that wanted to "hit the showers." Ryan disputed that suggestion: "I think when you look at it, certainly we didn't play well," Ryan said. "It's obvious we didn't play well to his standards, either. I think we have a reputation in this league as being a tremendous defense and we didn't play that way. As far as us quitting, there's no way. That wasn't the case." ... FB John Conner (knee/hamstring) and LB Bart Scott (toe) rode stationary bikes in the early portion of practice, and their availability for Monday night was uncertain.
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