FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Darrelle Revis is back in action for the New York Jets.
The All-Pro cornerback was cleared Thursday for contact in practice for the first time since suffering a concussion in the team’s season opener. And, as far as Revis is concerned, there’s no doubt whether he’ll be on the field against the Dolphins in Miami.
“I’m playing,” Revis said after practice. “The doctors cleared me, so I’ll be playing Sunday.”
He has no more restrictions, and just to show how ready he is, Revis jokingly added: “I can bang my head on a wall if I want to.”
Coach Rex Ryan was also optimistic about Revis’ chances of playing Sunday, but said before practice that he’ll lean on the team’s doctors before saying the cornerback will definitely be on the field in Miami.
“If it’s not the final hurdle, I don’t want to be saying something that isn’t true,” Ryan said. “Hopefully he’ll play, but I guess we’ll see.”
Revis practiced fully Thursday after passing all required tests. He needed to be cleared by the team physician and an independent neurologist to participate in contact drills. Revis was injured Sept. 9 against Buffalo when he was accidentally kicked in the head by teammate Bart Scott while attempting a tackle.
The cornerback said he didn’t need to be re-evaluated after practice anymore since he was cleared medically, so barring a setback, Revis will be back in the Jets’ secondary on Sunday.
“I think you feel good when you have the best player on the field,” Ryan said. “That can’t hurt you. … There’s only one Darrelle Revis. I know I feel great about it. It’s hard not to smile if he’s out there. You feel great as a playcaller.”
And it comes at a good time for the Jets (1-1), who take on the AFC East-rival Dolphins (1-1) in a game with some early importance.
“This is a must-win for us,” Revis said. “We need this win. The expectations are high for us to go down there and get a win Sunday.”
Revis didn’t travel with the Steelers for the game in Pittsburgh after not being cleared for contact late last week. He said he felt as though he were in “a fog” right after he was injured, but progressively felt better.
“Today, it felt good,” Revis said. “I actually got a couple jams in on press (coverage) and got physical with some guys. Contact actually felt good today, hitting guys and guys were hitting me back.”
Revis added that he felt pretty good Wednesday, too, and told the trainers that he didn’t want to wear the red non-contact jersey in practice.
His presence will be a big boost to the Jets’ defense, which received solid play from Kyle Wilson in his place, but Revis is considered by many to be the best player in the league at his position.
“I’m definitely happy that he’s cleared for contact,” Ryan said. “Without question, I’m happy about that, for his sake. He loves to play, but if he’s healthy, I think that’s the big thing. As a coach, having probably, if he’s not the premier defensive player in the league, he’s certainly up there, so having him as a player, obviously, you’re happy for that also.”
Without Revis on the field, the Jets allowed Ben Roethlisberger to throw for 275 yards and two touchdowns. He also had a passer rating of 125.1.
“I’m just one guy,” Revis said. “I’m just happy to be back.”
The challenge this week for the Jets will be defending do-it-all running back Reggie Bush, but having Revis in the lineup will help them try to shut down the Dolphins’ receivers and force rookie Ryan Tannehill into making mistakes.
“Having a special player like Darrelle, we ask him to do a lot of different things,” Ryan said. “A lot of times, we put him one-on-one with a guy, on a team’s best receiver and roll coverage away from him. He’s just that kind of guy.”
Tight end Dustin Keller (right hamstring) and safety Eric Smith (hip/knee) were upgraded Thursday to limited after not practicing Wednesday.
Getting Keller back would also be a big help to the offense, which struggled last week without the tight end on the field. Keller injured his right hamstring in the Jets’ second preseason game against Carolina, and then tweaked it again during practice last Wednesday.
“We’ll see how he goes through practice today, but it’s much better than yesterday when he was out,” Ryan said. “Hopefully, that is a sign that he’ll play this week.”
Fullback John Conner (right knee), linebacker Bryan Thomas (hamstring), defensive back Ellis Lankster (lower back) and safety LaRon Landry (heel) didn’t practice — although Landry’s absence was expected. The team gives him one day off from practice each week to reduce wear and tear on his heel, which caused him to miss the end of last season with the Washington Redskins.
NOTES: Landry was called for a personal foul for a late hit last week and another for a horse-collar tackle, but Ryan enjoys the safety’s aggressive style. “I love the fact he has a reputation as a huge hitter because he’s clean,” the coach said. “There isn’t anybody saying he’s not a clean player. He’s a clean player. He’s a hitter.” Landry won’t slow down or change the way he plays, either. “When I’m in the game, I’m not thinking about a penalty I’m about to have or anything like that,” he said. “I’m just playing a play to win and do anything to help my team out.” … ST coordinator Mike Westhoff has said this will be his 30th and final year coaching in the NFL, and he hasn’t reconsidered at any point so far. “I don’t close doors, but I think I just made a decision that this would be enough and the time to maybe look at something else,” Westhoff said.