Watch: Warren Sapp goes one-on-one with
Darrelle Revis ran across butterflies Wednesday night and cobwebs Thursday morning, but by noon on the first day of the Tampa Bay's training camp, he was free and clear of all entomological nuisances.
Ten months and two days after he suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament while playing for the New York Jets and 13-and-a-half weeks after he was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Revis took part in a real football practice on Thursday morning. It was a landmark step in his recovery, which is aimed at having him on the field for the Buccaneers' regular-season opener – coincidentally against the Jets – on September 8.
"I’ve been looking forward to this since I’ve been here, so it’s been awesome to be out there with my teammates," said Revis. "To be out there with the coaches and just do what I love doing, playing football."
Revis took part in 11 of the team's 24 practice drills, doing the individual-position portions of the morning before turning to conditioning work during the larger team drills. His knee felt sound and he finished the day believing he could tackle a little more on Friday, if the trainers and Head Coach Greg Schiano clear him to do so. The little bit of anxiety he experienced the night before gave way to relief and then the familiar and welcome feel of football work.
“Just trying, for the first day of practice, to get back out there with not really knowing what the outcome is going to be," said Revis, explaining the source of his eve-of-camp butterflies. "It was great. I got out there and I did what I could at the time and did as much as I could and practice was over.
“I felt fine. I think the biggest thing was just trying to brush the cobwebs off and get out there. This situation … is to just try and ease me in and progress from there. I think that is the biggest thing at this stage, to take it day by day. I think that is what we are doing right now – just focus on day to day and keep on progressing.”
Revis said he didn't get any specific advice from Schiano or Director of Sports Medicine and Performance Todd Toriscelli before Thursday's practice. He certainly had their attention during the hour or so he was on the field, though, as the results of that first workout were going to help establish the next step in the process. So far, so good.
“He looked good," said Schiano. "He participated in most of the practice and the last period he went in early to do rehab. We’re going to take it day by day depending on how he feels, how he looks on tape and what the trainer and General Manager Mark Dominik say.”
It has not yet been determined when Revis will make his game-day debut in the preseason, or if he will at all. He is eager to play but he also feels as if seven years in the league have matured his approach to his preparation. If the team's experts believe a certain path is the right one to have him ready for the Jets – whether it's playing in August or not – he won't fight to get off that path.
"If that’s the move for me to be healthy on September 8, then that is the game plan," said Revis. "We are all on the same page here. I think the biggest thing is somebody has got to hold me back because I am a competitor. I’m so anxious to get out there and be with my teammates and play. Coach is doing a great job and Todd, our trainer, is doing a great job of that too.
"I’ve been listening through this whole process. Even more, through the ACL injury, I had to sit back and listen. I had never been injured before, so it was something new for me."
Revis will probably sleep well on Thursday night (as will his exhausted teammates). The butterflies are gone and the cobwebs have been cleared. That first practice, which had stood out on the calendar of Revis's return, is in the books. Now he's ready for the next step.
"I just went out there and did what I could do [and] it went well," he said. "Tomorrow I’ll probably be able to do more and as the days go on, more and more.”