Darrelle Revis will be a shutdown cornerback again. He's certain of it.
The New York Jets' star cornerback was scheduled to have surgery Tuesday to repair a torn knee ligament suffered three weeks ago in a win at Miami. While he knows the road to recovery will be arduous, Revis expects to be playing at an elite level next season.
"Once I get back to 100 percent," Revis said Monday, "to me, there's no question I (will) be back to where I was."
And that's being a player widely recognized as perhaps the best defensive player in the NFL, a cornerback who routinely shuts down others teams' best wide receivers and takes away entire sections of the field with his air-tight coverage.
It was the first time Revis addressed the media since he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on Sept. 23. His business manager has posted pictures of his pre-surgery rehabilitation on Twitter, and Revis is also having a film crew follow him through the rehabilitation process. The cornerback is eager to return "as soon as possible," but understands he needs to be patient while the Jets continue without him.
"I never had an injury like this, so this is all new for me as well," Revis said. "But, yeah, I'm a hard worker. I know I'm going to work my butt off and get back to where I need to be."
Dr. Russell Warren, who is the New York Giants' team doctor, will perform the surgery in Manhattan to repair his ACL, a procedure that will include taking a graft from his patellar tendon.
Revis thinks he should be jogging in 12 to 16 weeks. Normal recovery time from an ACL injury is usually six to nine months, which means he would be on pace to get back to full football activities by around the start of training camp.
"I just want to get back as fast as possible where I feel comfortable, I'm out there and play like I usually do," Revis said. "I think that's the biggest goal. ... As soon as I feel 100 percent, I'll be ready to go, whether that's January, February, March — it doesn't matter."
Revis knew something was wrong as soon as the injury occurred because it felt unlike anything he'd ever experienced. He was running to defend a screen pass when he clutched his left knee.
"It felt like somebody had a knife and cut through my knee," he said. "That's the feeling I got from trying to make the cut. It's crazy because I've made that cut a thousand million times. ... I guess it was meant to happen at the time."
Revis has consulted various athletes who have come back from similar injuries, including teammates Antonio Cromartie and Sione Po'uha, as well as Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson and former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb.
He watched the Jets' 35-9 rout of Indianapolis from a suite at MetLife Stadium on Sunday — something that hasn't necessarily been easy for one of the team's leaders. He has been around the Jets' training facility constantly, but has chosen not to participate in team meetings so he wouldn't be a "distraction."
"It's been hard," he said, "because now you're looking outside in instead of inside out."
Cromartie has stepped in as the No. 1 cornerback in Revis' absence, with excellent performances against Indianapolis' Reggie Wayne and Houston's Andre Johnson the past two games.
"Antonio Cromartie is doing a great impersonation of Darrelle Revis," said NFL Network's Deion Sanders, a former All-Pro cornerback.
Revis' contract issue is also a major issue in his comeback. The 27-year-old cornerback is signed through the 2013 season, and had hoped to restructure his deal before this season. When that didn't happen, Revis chose to report on time anyway to training camp — and had a lost season, first because of a concussion that sidelined him for a game and then the knee injury.
Still, Rex Ryan and the Jets held out hope that Revis could return for a possible Super Bowl run, so they put off placing him on season-ending injured reserve until last Friday — when they were in desperate need of filling his roster spot because of injuries to other players.
Now, Revis will head into another offseason knowing he'll have to prove to the Jets that he's healthy before he gets a contract extension or new deal.
"I'm sure it might raise people's eyebrows with how I'm going to look when I come back," he said. "I'm OK with that. I wouldn't expect anything less. I'm going to treat it like any other offseason."
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