Heading into the Ravens' minicamp this week, Ravens safety Terrence Brooks has been practicing without any setbacks. That includes participating in full-team drills, an encouraging sign that could allow Brooks to play earlier than anticipated this season.
He appears to be far ahead of schedule despite tearing the anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament in his right knee in December against the Jacksonville Jaguars while covering a kickoff.
Brooks is hoping to avoid being placed on the physically unable to perform list at the start of the regular season even though he might begin training camp on that reserve list.
"I'm breaking on the ball and little stuff like that, but that's got to get better," Brooks told The Baltimore Sun. "But that comes with more rehab and getting a little stronger. Everything else feels pretty good.
"I definitely don't feel like I'm rushing. It's not like I'm hurting myself while I'm doing it. I'm pushing myself. It really feels good."
Brooks was drafted in the third round last year out of Florida State and finished with 19 tackles, two passes defended and a fumble recovery in 11 games.
Alhough Brooks didn't start a game as a rookie he displayed potential. He delivered a concussion-causing hit when he blasted Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker. He was also benched after allowing a long touchdown pass to wide receiver Marques Colston against the New Orleans Saints.
Brooks could bolster the Ravens' depth at free safety behind newly acquired starter Kendrick Lewis, a former Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs starter who was signed to a three-year, $5.4 million contract this offseason.
For Brooks to contribute this season, he'll need to regain the last remaining element in his recovery from a major knee injury.
"Explosiveness, explosion, I can definitely feel the difference from the explosion I had before and how fast I can get to places and close on the ball," Brooks said. "I can definitely feel the difference, but I don't get down about that. I'm under six months and I'm practicing, so I can't feel too greedy."
There are some scenarios where Brooks could contribute this year, but the Ravens are monitoring the situation closely to make sure he's completely healed from the surgery.
Brooks hasn't ruled out the possibility of playing sooner than anticipated and being ready for the first game of the regular season.
"It's definitely a possibility, but it's up to the trainers," Brooks said. "I have to trust it and prove I can actually go out there and compete. I definitely don't want to go out there and be a step slower or a couple of steps slower.
"I want to be able to compete at a high level. I put in the hard work and it benefits you. Everybody has been praying and helping me get through it."