ALBANY, N.Y. -- Plaxico Burress says it's his ankle, not his contract, that is keeping him from practicing with the Super Bowl champion New York Giants.
"If it was only about my contract, I would be home in South Florida relaxing," Burress said Monday.
There have been suspicions about Burress' injury because he refused to practice during a June minicamp over the team's decision not to give him a new contract. He has three years remaining on a deal that will pay him $3.25 million this season, well below what the league's top receivers earn.
Burress said in his first interview since the start of training camp that he rolled his right ankle a couple of weeks ago while running to get in shape. He went to see a doctor in North Carolina and informed the team of his injury.
"The injury I had last year is healed," Burress said. "It's just sore, just something I want to prevent from basically going through what I went through last year. I don't want to do that. It was very frustrating what I went through. I played pretty good, but I know I can be a lot better."
Team doctors examined Burress over the weekend and told coach Tom Coughlin the receiver might be ready to go by midweek. The coach described the injury as "structural."
"He has a situation where he absolutely has to wear orthotics," Coughlin said. "He really has to wear them all the time. That's really going to help and hopefully the soreness will be gone so he can work this week."
Burress said he will wear the orthotics, provided his ankle feels better using them.
"We're just trying different things with my shoes and cleats and things like that," Burress said. "When I heal up and get to 100 percent, I think everything is going to be OK."
Burress practiced fewer than 10 times last season after spraining his right ankle early in training camp. He still led the team with 70 catches for 1,025 yards and a career-high 12 touchdowns. He also caught a game-winning 13-yard touchdown pass in the final minute of the team's Super Bowl win over the previously unbeaten New England Patriots.
"I don't want to play at the level I played at last year," Burress said. "I want to be even better, and the only way for me to do that is rest and get to be 100 percent."
Drew Rosenhaus, Burress' agent, met with Giants assistant general manager Kevin Abrams last week in an attempt to reach a new contract. While Rosenhaus said nothing was imminent, Burress feels he will get a new deal.
"At the end of the day it will take care of itself," Burress said. "I know I'm one of the best players in this league at my position. I know I can play. I'm just going to go out and keep doing what I'm doing and look to have the best year of my career."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press