TAMPA — Darrelle Revis is always competing, locking down an opponent's top receiver, confounding quarterbacks and offensive coordinators as they try to operate under what Jets coach Rex Ryan called the "Revis Rules."
"A Revis rule is you better not throw it to the far hash outside the numbers because he'll pick it," Ryan said.
But for all of the man-to-man battles Revis has won, one challenge shakes even his orthopedist to the marrow.
Can the Bucs cornerback, who on Sunday is set to make his first start since tearing his left ACL last season, measure up to the three-time All-Pro he was before the injury?
"Sometimes, you'll see spurts and I feel it, and sometimes, I won't," Revis said Wednesday. "I hear a whole bunch of stories of, 'You've got to get out there first, and you've got to just let it rip, and the strength will come over time.'
"I can't sit here and get down on myself if I'm a step late on a play here or there. I've just got to keep on improving and keep on building on me getting into shape and getting back to where I used to be playing at an elite level."
Revis, 28, did not play in the preseason. The seventh-year player said it was never much of a discussion as the focus was on strengthening his knee and being ready for the opener against the Jets, who traded him in the offseason. But it has been a slow process, Revis said, and he's not sure how many snaps he will play Sunday.
"He looks good," Bucs coach Greg Schiano said. "It's hard to tell if it's Darrelle Revis you see (in the game). But he looks good. It's just all going to be a matter of, 'Does he have the confidence? Does he feel it's really a go?' "
Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith said he has not studied video of Revis. But everyone in the organization has clued him in as to how dangerous Revis can be.
"I don't think it's necessary," Smith said. "You pretty much get the idea of what kind of player he is based on his reputation. I mean, we all know about Revis."
Following his full participation in practice Wednesday, Revis was amused at Smith's approach.
"Just to let him know, I'm studying him," Revis said.
In fact, Revis is in position to provide insider trading on Jets receivers Stephen Hill, Jeremy Kerley and Santonio Holmes.
"I've got a bunch of tips on those guys," Revis said. "And … I've been sharing them with our secondary. It's almost like stealing a little bit, and that's what you've got to do."
Revis said he expects the Jets and Smith to test him.
"We'll take our shots against him if we can," Jets linebacker Calvin Pace said. "If not, we'll stay off that island."
Bucs at Jets
1 p.m. Sunday; MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J. TV/radio: Ch. 13; 620-AM, 103.5-FM, 95.3-FM