How did Plaxico Burress fare in first game back?

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How did Plaxico Burress fare in first game back?

From Comcast SportsNet Monday, August 22, 2011
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Plaxico Burress saw the ball coming his way and everything started to move in slow motion. He stretched his arms out, grabbed the pass over his shoulder and fell into the end zone for a touchdown. After being away from the game for nearly three years, Plax was back. "Everything feels normal," the wide receiver said. "It feels like football. To be honest, it feels like I never left." Burress caught three passes for 66 yards, including a terrific 26-yard reception for a touchdown, in his first game since 2008 to help the New York Jets beat the Cincinnati Bengals 27-7 in a preseason game Sunday night. "It's the tip of the iceberg," Burress said. "I'm just getting started." Signed last month after serving 20 months in prison on a gun charge, Burress made his debut with the Jets (1-1) a memorable one. He caught a 20-yard pass from Mark Sanchez on the Jets' first offensive play, prompting huge cheers from the rain-soaked crowd at the New Meadowlands Stadium. "He was ready to play," Sanchez said. "He's been waiting for this for a long time, so I didn't have to say anything or do anything, really, except get him a ball that he could catch and he was rolling after the first play." Burress had another 20-yard grab in the second quarter, but the highlight came on New York's last offensive play of the first half. Burress took off down the left sideline, drew separation from defensive back Fred Bennett and hauled in the pass as he dropped into the end zone to put New York up 17-7. Burress got up and bowed a few times to the crowd, which had seen him make similar plays for years with the Steelers and Giants. "It's a good thing to make it seem like everything is going in slow motion because that means the game is still slow to me," he said. "Nothing's moving fast. To have that ball hanging up in the air like that with the lights and different things like that, I just trusted myself to make an over-the-shoulder catch and try to bring it in." Burress recently turned 34 and has acknowledged that many doubt he can return to the elite level he was playing at before he accidentally shot himself in the leg at a Manhattan nightclub in 2008. But the former Super Bowl star with the Giants has insisted throughout training camp -- even while he was hobbled by a sprained left ankle -- that he expects to be a game-changing receiver again. After missing the preseason opener at Houston because of the ankle injury, Burress backed up his bold words against the Bengals (0-2). "He played great," Jets coach Rex Ryan said. "If we get the coverage a certain way, good luck to you. He is a big target and when he is covered, he is open." Sanchez finished 12 of 20 for 173 yards and two touchdowns, the first to Santonio Holmes, as the Jets' starting offense played the entire first half. The running game, without starter Shonn Greene, stalled during the first two quarters, gaining just 17 yards, as a driving rain fell. LaDainian Tomlinson had just 16 yards on nine carries. Cincinnati's offense struggled badly as rookie Andy Dalton, the second-round pick out of TCU, threw two interceptions that resulted in scores by New York. Dalton was 4 of 11 for 29 yards after one quarter, and finished 8 of 19 for 86 yards. "It wasn't good enough," Dalton said. "I have to come out and play better." On the Bengals' second possession, Eric Smith intercepted Dalton's pass intended for A.J. Green, who tipped the ball into the safety's hands. After a few steps, Smith lateraled the ball to Darrelle Revis, who brought the ball to the Bengals 16. One play later, Sanchez connected with Holmes to give the Jets a 7-0 lead. Dalton made another mistake a few minutes later when he overthrew Andre Caldwell on third-and-15 from the 22 and the ball landed in the hands of a waiting Jim Leonhard, who returned it 35 yards to Cincinnati's 10. The Jets' offense stalled and settled for Nick Novak's 30-yard field goal that made it 10-0. "He continues to work through the rough spots of playing this game as a rookie," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said about Dalton. "He experienced some different conditions, playing with a wet ball. It was just another good step as he moves forward." Dalton did engineer a terrific 70-yard scoring drive -- his first of the preseason -- early in the second quarter that was capped by Brian Leonard's 1-yard rush. But this night belonged to Burress, whose last game was Nov. 23, 2008, at Arizona while with the Giants. Sure it was only a preseason game, but it was huge for Burress, who just a few months ago was cleaning toilets, mopping floors and serving meals in prison. "Just to walk into stadium and get on the football field and doing stretches and different things like that, I kind of felt like I was there," he said. "But in my mind, it was kind of like I couldn't believe I was actually doing football again. It was like an out-of-body experience, a surreal feeling. I just tried to stay focused." He was cheered as he ran out of the tunnel with the offense in pregame introductions, and got a nice hand when he zipped across the field and Sanchez immediately got him involved with a 20-yard completion. "It's different," Sanchez said. "I've never had a target like him." Burress could only dream for nearly three years of the cheers he heard Sunday. After a slow start with the Jets because of not being able to practice fully with the sore ankle, Burress got in a few days of full practices this week and felt good. Now, he needs to build a rapport with Sanchez, who threw Burress' way seven times. "We left a few plays out there that we should've hit," Burress said, "but the sky's the limit." Notes: Several key players sat out, including Derrick Mason, Bart Scott, Brandon Moore and Calvin Pace for the Jets, and Keith Rivers, Jonathan Fanene, Adam Jones and Gibril Wilson for the Bengals. ... Brashton Satele had an interception that helped set up Greg McElroy's 3-yard touchdown pass to Joe McKnight in the fourth quarter that gave the Jets a 27-7 lead. ... LB Aaron Maybin, a former Buffalo first-round bust signed last week by the Jets, had a sack and a forced fumble.

Giants spring training Day 39: Nuñez receives pair of cortisone shots

Giants spring training Day 39: Nuñez receives pair of cortisone shots

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford will return to camp Thursday, show off their WBC championship medals, and then head to nearby Salt River Fields to take on the Colorado Rockies. It'll be a few more days, however, before the Giants have their full infield on the field. 

Eduardo Nuñez said he actually got two cortisone shots in his right shoulder, since an MRI this week showed “something” in two separate spots. Nuñez asked for the MRI because, while he was able to play and make strong throws, he felt pain on a daily basis. He might DH this weekend, but it'll be a few more days before he's cleared to begin throwing. 

The Giants are hopeful that the shots calm all this down, and Nuñez anticipated being ready for Opening Day. Still, it certainly sounds like this will be a close call. Conor Gillaspie, who is having a huge spring, could get plenty of early time at third. Manager Bruce Bochy doesn't anticipate Nuñez missing Opening Day.

"He should be ready," Bochy said. 

The Giants need all the good injury news they can get. It is expected that Will Smith will announce Friday that he's having Tommy John surgery. 

ICYMI: From this morning, a feature on George Kontos and his rise over the last few years. 

Also, one of the bench candidates, Gordon Beckham, asked for his release. The Giants will soon have to make decisions on Hill and David Hernandez, who have similar retention bonuses due March 28.

GAME RECAP: The Giants played one of their uglier games of the spring, losing 9-2 to King Felix and the Mariners … Matt Moore lasted just 1 2/3 innings, giving up four runs on four hits, two walks, a balk and a wild pitch. It was the same old thing: Moore just all of a sudden lost his command, and because he got up past the 30-pitch mark in the second inning alone, the Giants cut it off. Moore went down to the bullpen and got up to around 80 pitches. He'll make one more start down here, Tuesday against the Cubs ... Joe Panik had a hard double, one of just four hits for the Giants … Chris Marrero hasn’t played a whole lot of left field this spring, and he didn’t show much to the coaches on a couple of opportunities to throw home. The left field situation remains a mystery. 

POSITION BATTLES: Kelby Tomlinson played six innings of left field in a minor league game, and he had to wait until the sixth to get his first and only fly ball. There seemed to be a lot of interest from decision-makers about how Tomlinson fared, and his action today opens up an intriguing possibility. There’s a roster permutation that has the Giants keeping just one reserve outfielder (Gorkys Hernandez) and three backup infielders: Conor Gillaspie, Aaron Hill and Kelby Tomlinson, with the latter two being options in left field. 

FAMILIAR FACE: Angel Pagan made it through the WBC healthy, and he apparently is drawing interest from the Phillies and Blue Jays. Giants people are confident Pagan will get a big league job somewhere over the coming week. 

Giants reliever Will Smith leaning toward season-ending Tommy John surgery

Giants reliever Will Smith leaning toward season-ending Tommy John surgery

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Left-hander Will Smith, a key piece of a revamped bullpen, is leaning toward having Tommy John surgery, manager Bruce Bochy said Thursday night. 

Bochy said surgery was the recommendation of both doctors who examined Smith's elbow this week. Smith will talk to his agent before coming to a final decision on Friday. The procedure would keep Smith out the entire 2017 season and likely would cause him to miss the start of the 2018 season.

Smith, 27, missed the first month of camp because of pain in his throwing elbow. He returned March 17, but during a March 20 outing he again felt pain and called for a trainer. A second round of diagnostics revealed a strain and a sprain in the elbow. Smith saw team orthopedist Dr. Ken Akizuki in San Francisco and flew to Los Angeles this week to get a second opinion from Dr. Neal ElAttrache of the Kerlen-Jobe Clinic. 

"They had the same opinion," Bochy said. "There is a tear there. You can try to rehab it and if that doesn't work you're behind a couple of months ... It's not a definite he's going to have it done, but two doctors are in agreement on what this is."

Smith was expected to serve as the late lefty for the Giants, getting setup work in the seventh and eighth innings. With Smith out, the Giants will lean on young lefties Steven Okert, Josh Osich and Ty Blach. 

"We're going to have to have someone step up and help us in the seventh and eighth," Bochy said. "That was going to be will's role. He's a guy we were leaning on."

Smith was acquired from the Brewers at the deadline last season in exchange for right-hander Phil Bickford (who is currently serving a 50-game suspension) and catcher Andrew Susac (who is currently injured). After a shaky start, he finished the regular season with 18 consecutive scoreless appearances. 

The Giants have for the most part avoided Tommy John for 40-man roster pitchers. Hunter Strickland, Derek Law and Josh Osich have all had it during their time in the organization, along with outfielder Mac Williamson. Prospect Ian Gardeck is currently recovering from Tommy John. The last Giants pitcher who was likely headed for the roster before having Tommy John was left-hander Eric Surkamp. He had surgery in 2012.

The timetable is different for every pitcher, but the general consensus is that the procedure sidelines a pitcher for at least a year, and usually closer to 16 months. Matt Moore, Thursday night’s starter, had Tommy John on April 23, 2014. He did not return to a big league mound until July 2, 2015, and even then, he was under restrictions. 

Smith is under team control for two more seasons after this one.