It always happens at this time of year. It never happens fast enough, but it happens. Injured players rehab, rehab, rehab, and then one day they return to action.
Now it's Muhammad Wilkerson's turn. And in his words, "I'm excited."
Wilkerson was moved from the Jets' Active/PUP list to the active roster today. That meant a slow slide back into the pool with only position drills today. But that's OK by Mo.
"I'm very excited to be with the group in the position drills," he said, adding that in his D-line group, "There's a lot of jokesters, so I got some jokes."
Even though he didn't take part in team drills, he did get a special invitation from head coach Todd Bowles at the end of practice.
"It felt good to break down the huddle," Wilkerson said. "Guys were giving me handshakes and dapping me up — that was sweet."
Wilkerson's process is almost complete. Bowles was happy to see that No. 96 "bounced around pretty good" today and even suggested he could see action Thursday night in the Jets' preseason opener against the Jaguars at MetLife Stadium.
"He's in pads. We're going to see what he does tomorrow," the coach said of the day-before-the-game morning session. "We're going to let him run around a little bit, and if we can steal a rep or two, we'll play him. If not, we'll keep him out."
Even if Mo were to get a full turn with the ones at the start of the Jaguars game, it would only be about 10 plays. That's what the starters got in Bowles' first game as Jets coach, last year's preseason opener at Detroit.
But Wilkerson will take whatever he gets from the coaches and the trainers and be thankful for it.
"This is my first leg injury. It's something that could be frustrating at times," he said. "But along with the rehab process, my teammates were reaching out to me, visiting me, helping. So I'm glad that process is almost over and I'm back to being full-go."