Tucked well away from the practice fields where his new teammates are running through drills, Bucs cornerback Darrelle Revis pumps away on a stationary bike.
How fitting. Revis watches while his teammates anxiously wait for when he can get into a practice and move in some sort of direction — forward, backward, up, sideways or any which way an NFL cornerback has to go to cover a wide receiver.
Nearly nine months removed from tearing his left ACL and three months before the Bucs' season opener against the Jets, Revis apparently is on schedule. That's what everyone says. Here's the problem: No one can say for certain what the schedule is.
That's the thing with ACL injuries. You never know when an athlete will be fully recovered until the moment he is fully recovered.
Sometimes it's six months. Sometimes it's a year. Some never fully recover.
Revis? We'll see. He will be ready when he is ready.
"It's going well,'' Revis said Tuesday after a Bucs offseason workout. "I'm just taking the steps every day and it's improving. That's basically it, trying to improve every day.''
So, is he 80 percent? Is he 90 percent?
"I couldn't really put a number on it,'' Revis, 27, said. "I can just tell that I'm getting stronger and improving. I'm out here, running and cutting and even in the weight room, I'm getting stronger. So there's no percentage on it right now, but I can tell I feel better than I did a couple of weeks ago.''
This much is absolutely clear: The Bucs need Revis to be ready for the season opener on Sept. 8. Otherwise, one of the NFL's worst pass defenses ever is going to go into the season relying on the unreliable Eric Wright, a rookie (second-round pick Johnthan Banks) and a bunch of cornerbacks who were a part of that crummy pass defense last season.
Let's be real here. If Revis isn't 100 percent or close to it by the time the season starts, the Bucs are in trouble. The defense — how the Bucs want to play, how they intend to attack offenses, how they plan on stopping the likes of Matt Ryan and Drew Brees — is predicated on Revis being healthy and, once again, being an elite shutdown corner.
For the record, Revis doesn't seem concerned even though he still isn't practicing. He said he plans on being on the field against the Jets when the regular season opens.
"That's the goal, to be out there Week 1 and playing,'' Revis said. "If anything other than that, we'll have to see when that time comes. But we've got to have a goal set and I think coach (Greg Schiano) has the same goal, too and that's to be out there Week 1.''
What about training camp? What about the preseason? Revis can't miss most of the 2012 season and then training camp and then the preseason and expect to line up on opening day and be effective, can he?
He needs reps. He needs to get familiar with schemes. He needs to be running at full game speed with 10 teammates zigging and zagging around him. The first time he lines up for real can't be on Sept. 8, can it?
"(When he plays) is going to be predicated, not necessary on live play, as much it is cutting, breaking, running, covering, all those things,'' Bucs coach Greg Schiano said. "That's the important part. That's where I've got to get a feel and, more importantly, where he has got to get a feel. He's the one who has to be confident.''
But how can Revis be confident until he lines up against a real NFL receiver in game conditions? Only then can he trust that his knee is going to hold up to all the quick cuts and sudden stops. He can do all the practice drills and walk-throughs he wants, but nothing duplicates an NFL game. Nothing simulates breaking on a pass, juking a tackler after an interception, avoiding a block or, worst of all, getting blocked.
You don't know if you can play until you know you can play. Look at NBA star Derrick Rose, who was cleared to play well before the season ended and just didn't have the confidence to take the floor.
"That was a big story when it happened, when Derrick Rose went down,'' Revis said. "I guess it depends on how he feels. I don't know if he feels like he's 100 percent. I know through this process, this ACL process, everybody always talks about having confidence when you come back on the field. So I don't know if he's confident enough to get out there.''
The question now is when will Revis feel confident enough to get out there?
"I'm confident,'' Revis said. "I'm cutting. (Bucs trainer Todd Toriscelli) might tell me to slow down a little bit, but I'm going full tilt and I'm cutting because I'm feeling good. Cutting and running and do what I have to do. But I still have to listen to Todd and go through the process for them to clear me and go back on the field.
"I think the biggest thing is making sure I'm 100 percent when I step out there with the guys, my teammates and we go out there and play some great football.''
The Bucs need that time to be by Sept. 8. If not well before then.