FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — C.J. Mosley broke his own news with an announcement the New York Jets and their fans have been waiting to hear for weeks.
"I'm playing Monday night," the star linebacker declared Thursday before repeating himself when a reporter asked what he said.
"Unless I get hurt or something," Mosley said, "I'm playing."
The Jets will have Mosley against the undefeated New England Patriots, a week after they got quarterback Sam Darnold back after he missed three games with mononucleosis.
Mosley has been sidelined since injuring his groin during the third quarter of the Jets' season-opening loss to Buffalo. He participated in individual drills Thursday for the first time in his recovery process and felt good afterward.
"It was a long process and I would say after the fourth week or the week after, I could really feel my body getting better," he said. "Most of the swelling went down and I think that was kind of the main thing. At my position and what I do, it was affecting me cutting and changing direction, and I do that every single play.
"Once I kind of got that mental block out of my head, it kind of helped me get back out of the field and test the limits."
Mosley was listed on the Jets' first injury report of the week as "Did Not Practice," a designation that refers only to team drill periods. That could be the next step, though, as Mosley continues to progress.
"It felt good, laughing with the guys and it felt like I was part of the team again," Mosley said with a smile. "Everything felt good. I try my best to make it as game-like as possible."
The team had not previously announced that Mosley will return Monday night, but his return is a huge boost to the Jets' defense. He made an immediate impact for New York in the opener with an interception returned for a touchdown and a fumble recovery against the Bills before being injured while making a play in the end zone. The Jets allowed 17 unanswered points to Buffalo after Mosley left.
"C.J.'s a great player," Darnold said. "I know he's going to give the defense a huge lift, and the team, really with him being out there and being in pads, even, and even in practice today, you could just feel guys rally around him."
On Wednesday, coach Adam Gase likened Mosley's imminent return to getting a franchise quarterback back, saying "it's that impactful." The Jets signed Mosley to a five-year, $85 million deal in March after he played his first five NFL seasons in Baltimore.
Gase recently acknowledged that Mosley's injury was worse than initially thought, leading to the star linebacker having to wait while his body healed — unable to help with the Jets off to a 1-4 start.
"It's been annoying, honestly," Mosley said. "You set a timetable up and you're not ready and you feel like you're having setbacks. But, you've got to be patient because if I know if I would've tried to get on the field the past couple of weeks, it only would've maybe made it worse."
Mosley expected to ramp up his practice reps as the rest of the week goes on, and said he was able to do everything the coaches and trainers asked him to do on the field.
"I won't be thinking about my leg," he said. "I'll just be thinking about making plays on defense."
NOTES: DE Henry Anderson (shoulder), LT Kelvin Beachum (ankle), RB-KR Trenton Cannon (foot/ankle), CB Nate Hairston (knee), TE Chris Herndon (hamstring), LB Neville Hewitt (neck/knee), LB Albert McLellan (concussion), LG Kelechi Osemele (shoulder) and CB Darryl Roberts (ankle) all did not participate in team drills. ... NT Steve McLendon (hamstring), C Ryan Kalil (shoulder), WR Demaryius Thomas (hamstring), LB Blake Cashman (ankle) and RG Brian Winters (shoulder/knee) were all limited. ... The Jets signed DB Arthur Maulet to the practice squad two days after waiving him, and placed OL Brandon Hitner on the practice squad injured reserve list. ... CB Bless Austin, a sixth-round pick out of Rutgers, practiced for the first time this season. He remains on the reserve/non-football injury list as he recovers from a knee injury in college, but the Jets now have 21 days to add him to the 53-man roster or place him on season-ending IR.