TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Darrelle Revis is making progress in his recovery from knee surgery and remains hopeful of being ready to play in the team's regular season opener in September.
The centerpiece of coach Greg Schiano's effort to overhaul the NFL's worst pass defense is not expected to participate in full-speed drills during a mandatory mini-camp next week. Revis, however, has been working out with a team trainer and spending time on the sidelines observing teammates during voluntary practices known as organized team activities.
Revis said Tuesday he's "taking steps every day" toward getting back on the field.
At the same time, he won't say how close his surgically repaired left knee is to being 100 percent.
"I cannot really put a number on it," the three-time All Pro said. "I can tell it is getting stronger. ... I am out here running and cutting. Even in the weight room we are getting stronger. There is really no percentage on it right now, but I can tell I feel better than I did a couple weeks ago."
Generally regarded as the league's top player at his position when healthy, Revis missed most of last season with the New York Jets after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.
The Bucs obtained the seventh-year pro from the Jets in a pre-draft trade in exchange for the 13th overall pick of the first round, then signed Revis to a six-year, $96 million contract.
Schiano and General manager Mark Dominik also signed All-Pro safety Dashon Goldson in free agency and selected cornerback Johnthan Banks in the second round as part of a plan to revamp a porous secondary that nearly set a NFL record for yards passing allowed in 2012.
Revis is confident he can return and be as good as ever.
"There is no concern. I feel myself getting stronger. I feel myself getting in shape," the 27-year-old said.
There are "certain steps through this process and we've got to knock those steps down when they approach," Revis added. "That is how you got to handle this situation. When those steps approach you, you knock them down and if it is a step back, it is a step back. If it is a step forward, then you move forward."
The cornerback said he's heard "a million ACL stories from people around the league and non-football players" but that he has not talked with Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who returned from a major knee injury to rush for nearly 2,100 yards and be voted the league's most valuable player last season.
"I think that is good talking to guys around the league that have had these ACL problems or injuries. You just listen. It kind of has you proactive a little bit because when they tell you this is going to happen then you go through it, you are like: 'Oh yeah, I was ready for it.' Your mind is already programmed to be ready for it," Revis said.
While there's no definitive timetable for Revis getting back on the field, the main target is the Sept. 8 season opener against his old team.
"That is the goal ... to be out there week one and play. If anything other than that we will have to see when that time comes, but we got to have a goal set. I think coach has the same goal too. To be out there week one," Revis said, reiterating he feels the rehab process is going well.
During OTA's, Revis spends much of his time working on an adjacent field with trainer Todd Toriscelli. Meanwhile, he's learning the defensive scheme during walkthroughs and team meetings.
"The defense is easy," Revis said. "I am a veteran and some of the things that we did in New York, coach Schiano does down here too. I am fine with that. I think the biggest thing is just making sure I am 100 percent when I step out there with my teammates, and we can go out there and play some great football."
Schiano feels Revis is progressing well, too.
"He's not a rookie. He's played a lot of years, played in a scheme where he has to do more than just cover one on one. That's always the fear, when you bring a corner in from the outside who's only played one on one, does he understand all the other concepts," Schiano said. "But he does. And he's got a real good football mind, so. He's doing a good job with his rehab and all those things, and he's also doing a real good job in the classroom, and those are the two things he really can do right now."
Like Revis, Schiano would not speculate about how much training camp or preseason game action the cornerback might need to be ready for the season opener.
"It's not necessarily live play as much as it is cutting and breaking and running and covering and all those things. That's the important part," the coach said. "So that's where I have to get a feel and more important than me, he's got to get a feel. He's the one who's got to be confident of that."