Darrelle Revis tore his ACL on September 23, 2012.
Seven months later, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed him to a conditional yet lucrative, multi-year contract. Over those seven months, Revis spent countless hours rehabbing his knee to prove to fans and more importantly himself that he can become the cornerback he once was: the best in the league.
Revis is no spring chicken. He just turned 28 years old.
The man who once owned his own island did not play in either of the Buccaneers’ first two preseason games. He is, however, rumored to see some activity in their third, against the Dolphins, ironically against whom he tore his ACL nearly a year ago. Odds are, even then, Revis will be used sparingly.
That limited playing time will all change on September 8 when the Buccaneers face off against Revis’ former team in East Rutherford, NJ the first week of the NFL regular season. Revis’ former coach, Rex Ryan, will most assuredly have a game plan to test his former star player’s health. Whether Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez and his questionable receiving corps can carry that game plan through remains to be seen.
Revis’ first true test will come when he returns to Tampa Bay to defend against a quarterback who, by the end of the season, will become the 5th leading passer of all-time: Drew Brees.
Brees is a considerably better quarterback than Sanchez. Mentioning those two in the same sentence is almost sacrilegious. New Orleans’ wide receivers are also far superior to New York’s. An eight year veteran, Marques Colston has proven to be one of the most dangerous targets in the league, amassing less than 1,000 receiving yards in a season only once.
That could be a long Sunday for Darrelle’s knee-vis.
While many of us sit and wait, only Revis can determine his own timetable for return. Just like Chicago Bulls’ point guard Derrick Rose, who didn’t play a minute last year, similar pressure mounts for Revis. Brees and company will soon see to it.
We don’t yet know how effective Revis will be or if he can become that cornerback of old. That Jets crowd won’t be very welcoming but at least Revis has studied Sanchez’ tendencies in the past and will be defending inferior Jets receivers. When he suits up against Brees and Colston one-on-one, which coach Sean Payton will ensure happens repeatedly, we’ll find out whether the Buccaneers made the right decision to sign him.
Of course, one game means very little. Maybe we shouldn’t overreact to a rough start. If Revis returns 100% healthy, all will be glorious in the bay area. But if he’s not, it’ll be back to the drawing board for a secondary that last year was one of the worst in league history.
Keep your fingers crossed, Buccaneers fans. We’ll all get to exhale soon.