Opening statement: “Before we get started, I just want to say one thing. This is really like a deja vu to me. When I came to the NFL in 1999, there was a lot of speculation about me. In 2000, when I became the starter, there was a lot of speculation because everyone wanted to know how I was going to do. And now since I've been here, I feel the same. There's a lot of questions, a lot of speculation. People want to know what I'm made of and how I'm going to do. I feel like it's a deja vu situation for me. I just wanted to let you all know that. I'm very excited and glad for the opportunity.”
Q. Do you think people wonder what you're made of or whether you're all right physically?
A. “I think it's all part of it. I don't know many people that have come back from an injury like this. For the most part, physically I feel great. I'm coming along, moving along, but it's a day-by-day process. It's a lot of work. I'm just glad to go through practice and not have any setbacks so far. So I feel pretty good.”
Q. Are you surprised by your progress so far?
A. “Not really because I'm a guy that thrives off determination, and I'm determined to be successful in anything I do. This is another roadblock. It's a tough roadblock, but I'm glad for the opportunity. I just have to keep doing the things I've been doing.”
Q. What do you attribute your progress to?
A. “When I chose my surgeon down in Alabama, Dr. Andrews, I did my homework on a couple of guys, and I found out he was one of the best. When I woke up out of surgery, he told me we did some double-knotting, some double-tying and reinforced some of those ligaments in there for you. I said that's all I needed to hear because the rest is on me to get in the weight room to get back to walking. Once I got to running and jogging, I knew I was going to continue to strengthen. I got a lot of help from my trainers here and even my training staff in Orlando, who I was working with at HealthSouth. They did a tremendous job with me.”
Q. In light of you diving for a loose ball during the two-minute drill in practice, is there a little voice in your head sometimes telling you not to do certain things?
A. “That voice is there. But at the same time, I know how to push it and where to go. I know my limits. Before you guys got here, for the last two and a half months I was out here working, running around, cutting to see where I'm at before we got to this point. I've done a lot of preparation to get here, so I know where my limits are and how far to push it.”
Q. Is that voice diminishing at all?
A. “It's like you have that good angel and bad angel on your shoulder. I just have to use good decision-making. If that ball would have been around a bunch of people, no, I definitely wouldn't have done that. Me, knowing my job and the situation we were in, in two minute, I have to get on that ball.”
Q. How do you rehabilitate your mind?
A. “I was at a low point. When you get hurt and you're up in the bed and can't walk, you start back at your foundation. I had a great foundation. I had my family with me, my wife with me every day. I had certain people to help lift me up, and everybody needs that. I'm glad for them. Once I'm able to get back on my feet and get going, then it's all on me to continue to push myself. Mentally, I was always there to keep it going, but at the same time, I had a great supporting cast around me. I still have that today, and I thank them for it.”
Q. Will you be ready for the exhibition opener?
A. “That's the perfect world. I would love that. But at the same time, we just have to take it day-by-day. I'm not making any predictions. I would love to be ready. That's my goal. There are limitations with an injury like this, and I have to continue to work on it.”
Q. What are your limitations right now?
A. “I'm just going to be smart about it. I'm not going to go out and make a crazy cut if I don't have to or do something crazy. I'm just going to go through the motions and get a feel for how I'm feeling. So far I haven't had any setbacks, and I'm glad for it.”
Q. Why does it feel like deja vu?
A. “When you think about 2000, a lot of people were questioning where this guy from Central Florida was coming from. Now I feel a lot of the same things. A lot of great players around me, good coaching staff, great system. Now it's just me doing my role, doing my part and not being Superman. Just doing my part and helping us be successful.”
Q. What was the lowest low?
A. “The day I was injured. To be carried off the field. I've never been carried off the field at any point in my life in any sport. Not to walk off on my own power was my lowest point. Just having someone to help me go to the bathroom. People don't see all that. That's what really makes you happy and continue to push hard and to be the best you can be for those times like that when you're at your lowest point.”
Q. When did you start to feel comfortable?
A. “I have to give a lot of credit to the whole trade. Me getting down here, having a new start, coming back home. That kind of solidified a huge change for me. I'm glad for it.”