Darrelle Revis isn’t predicting if he’ll be ready to play in Tampa Bay’s season opener, however the Buccaneers remain optimistic he will.
The three-time All-Pro cornerback missed most of last season with the New York Jets because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.
The Bucs acquired him in a trade this spring in exchange for the 13th overall pick in the NFL draft and are counting on him to make a difference in a defense that ranked last against the pass in 2012.
Revis has been limited in practice leading up to Thursday night’s preseason opener against the Baltimore Ravens, however he has begun covering receivers and expects to get involved in more team drills as training camp progresses.
”The phase we’re in right now, I’ve been doing one-on-one with a couple receivers and just getting back into it,” the seventh-year pro said.
”The next big step is getting into team activity: seven-on-seven; one-on-ones with Vincent (Jackson) and Mike (Williams) and those guys; and hopefully into team, team run and team pass,” Revis added. ”That would be the next phase.”
The Bucs, who signed Revis to a six-year, $96 million contract in April, have stressed from the day they made the deal that the team would not rush his recovery.
The goal is have him in the lineup for the Sept. 8 regular season opener against the cornerback’s old team. Coach Greg Schiano remains confident that will happen.
”He’s covering receivers right now. … We had a quarterback interjected into the equation, making plays on the football, which leads to a different amount of tangling up with the receiver because now you’re both trying to go for the same thing,” Schiano said.
”We’ll do that for a little bit, then we’ll up him to kind of seven-on-seven team stuff. It’s going to be step by step,” the coach added. ”There are probably still several steps. But I think as long nothing pushes us back, they’re going to move rather quickly.”
Still, Revis is hesitant to predict he’ll be able to play against the Jets.
”I think that’s too far down the road,” the four-time Pro Bowl selection said. ”Right now, we’re just trying to go day-by-day. That is the goal – we’ve talked about that – and I want to be there, first day, first game, be out there ready to roll with my teammates.”
There are reasons to be encouraged, though, beginning with Revis saying he hasn’t experienced any swelling in surgically-repaired knee since the start of training camp.
”That would set you back,” the 28-year-old said. ”There’s never been any swelling, just good improvement and trying to get it stronger.”
The Bucs are not concerned about whether Revis, who says he’s getting comfortable in the defense despite being limited in practice, sees any action during the preseason.
”Everything is similar to where I was in New York, it’s just different terminology. I try to take the terminology we have here and try to use it in my own language to try to figure things out. But it’s the same stuff,” Revis said. ”So I’m actually excited about that, that it’s not some totally out-of-leftfield (things) that I have to struggle (with) to get into the defense.”
Schiano is eager to take a look at a number of young players Thursday night, including rookie cornerback Johnthan Banks and others who’ve looked good in practice.
”It’s one thing to do it out on the grass against each other, then it’s another thing to do it in a stadium against another team. So that’s what I’m looking forward to, seeing that,” Schiano said. ”We have some new pieces on the coaching staff, seeing how they operate on game day, how they mesh with the guys that are here already, so there’s a bunch of things to look at.”