CBS analyst Bill Cowher visited a pair of his former receivers this week here at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Cowher, who was the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1992-2006, sat down with both Plaxico Burress and Santonio Holmes for a feature that will run Sunday on The NFL Today.
The Steelers selected Burress with the No. 8 overall choice in the 2000 draft. He played five years under Cowher, hauling in 261 receptions for 4,164 yards and 22 touchdowns. And now after two years out of football, Burress is writing quite a comeback story with the Jets.
“I think it’s remarkable. It speaks volumes about him and his determination,” Cowher told newyorkjets.com. “I think it’s great when people have a second chance to have an opportunity to do something with it. Plaxico has done that. It’s kind of neat to see him reunited with Santonio. With Dustin [Keller], they have three really quality people at the skill positions. It’s just a good story. I’d like to see him finish the season and finish it strong.”
Burress is averaging a healthy 14.1 yards a reception and his seven TDs pace the Jets. Many people had thought the 34-year-old pro would never be the same on the field after serving 20 months in prison on a weapons charge.
“I’m proud of him and happy for him. I’m happy that he had a chance to redeem himself and get a second chance,” Cowher said. “And he looks good — he looks like the guy, when you throw the ball that you think it’s going out of bounds on third-and-11, he looks like the guy that puts his big old arm span up and catches it. He’s a great target for a quarterback — trust me. He’s a quarterback’s best friend when you look at a target like that.”
Last Sunday, Bills WR Stevie Johnson attempted to poke fun at Burress with his touchdown dance. The latter provided answers on the field with a TD catch of his own and a critical third-down pickup on the winning drive, then acted like a true professional with his postgame comments.
“Nothing was more indicative than last week,” said Cowher. “You get the guy mocking him and the guy in the past may have had more of a redemption-type response, but his was genuine and sincere. It’s just about winning games. I think he’s become not just a better player and teammate but I think he’s become a better person, and that’s also been evident. It’s unfortunate what he went through but sometimes these things in life happen and they happen for the good.“
Holmes, who became the first Steelers receiver selected in the first round since Burress, was the 25th pick of the ’06 draft. Now known for his game-changing plays in Tone Time, it was Holmes who actually capped off his rookie year with a 67-yard OT winner against the Bengals in Cowher’s final game as coach.
“He’s very deceptive, a great route runner and he can run after the catch,” Cowher said. “You saw that at Ohio State and you saw a little bit of that in his first year. Right now he’s developed into a guy who can play big in big games. These two receivers you have have made Super Bowl game-winning catches, so they know what the pressure is like. Pressure is nothing new for these guys.”
Tags: Bill Cowher, Dustin Keller, PIttsburgh Steelers, Plaxico Burress, Santonio Holmes
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