It was 372 days after he tore his right quadriceps tendon against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Oct. 30, 2011. Sharpton is still on the Physically Unable to Perform list after suffering a setback in his rehab during training camp, but Wednesday was a major step toward an eventual return to the field on Sundays.
“It felt really good,” Sharpton said on Wednesday afternoon. “Just driving to the stadium today, I felt like a kid on the first day of school or something; I was all nervous. But it felt really good. I can’t even explain it. It felt good just to be a part of the team again.”
Added Sharpton a few minutes later: “I’m sure for everybody else, it was just a regular Wednesday. For me, it was just a huge, huge day. Like, it was bigger than the presidential election for me.”
Sharpton was eased into action at his first practice, playing about half of the scout team reps and doing limited special teams work.
“We’ll go back and look at it,” Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. “If we put on pads on (Thursday), it’ll be good to see him bounce around in pads a little bit. I’ve got to make a decision there. We’ll proceed this week. There is no pressure on him. It’s strictly, we’ve got our window here to figure out when we think we can turn him loose. Today was a step in the right direction.”
The Texans have three weeks to move Sharpton to the active roster. It could happen as soon as this weekend for their game at Chicago. It could happen as late as the week leading up to their game at Tennessee in Week 13.
Sharpton said he “felt good, felt strong” on Wednesday and that he was able to cut and change directions. He wants to be activated as soon as possible but is leaving the decision in the hands of coaches and trainers.
“After I went out there today, obviously, it was the first time getting back out there, so I had my doubts, (was) a little hesitant,” Sharpton said. “I had butterflies in my stomach. I was excited. All kind of different emotions, but after running around, letting the adrenaline flow through my blood, I felt like my old self. I felt like a good football player.
“Honestly, I’ve been blessed my whole life, but for me, this is probably the toughest thing I’ve ever had to deal with, especially as an athlete, my whole life never being sidelined this long, never experienced anything like this. Emotionally, it was really rough on me. I had really bad days. It was ups and downs, but I just kept pushing through it, following directions, and I’m just happy to be back out.”