The former Super Bowl MVP hasn’t played a game since his infamous benching in last year’s regular season finale.
Jets coach Rex Ryan confirmed the news on Friday, saying that both Holmes and slot receiver Jeremy Kerley will face the Carolina Panthers. Their much-needed return should come as a big boost to a struggling offense that has failed to score a touchdown in the preseason. The Mark Sanchez-led first unit has yet to produce a point in eight possessions.
“I hope it could be a big spark,” Kerley said. “Get some new legs out there and give Mark some [more] targets.”
Holmes has been sidelined since being hit by cornerback Antonio Cromartie in an August 4 intra-squad scrimmage and suffering rib cartilage damage.
The Jets’ only proven receiver returned to practice on a limited basis this week. The seventh-year pro from Ohio State started all 16 games last year, totaling 51 receptions for 654 yards and eight touchdowns.
For his career, Holmes boasts 77 receiving plays of 20 yards or better and 17 that have been good for at least 40 yards. Two hundred fifty-six of his 338 career catches have gone for first downs.
Holmes was named the MVP of Super Bowl XVIII after totaling nine catches for 131 yards and a touchdown to help Pittsburgh outlast Arizona, 27-23. Four of his receptions and 73 of his yards came on the game’s final drive, punctuated by his spectacular game-winning catch in the contest’s waning moments.
Kerley has missed most of training camp with a slight hamstring tear.
Ryan said he expects his starters to play three quarters Sunday, although both Holmes and Kerley will each be limited to about 10 to 15 plays.
None of the Jets starters or backup quarterback Tim Tebow is expected to play in the team’s preseason finale against the Philadelphia Eagles on August 30.