Eight-and-a-half months after tearing his right quadriceps tendon, Darryl Sharpton says he expects to be full-speed for the start of training camp.
The Texans' third-year inside linebacker has been a constant in the training room at Reliant Stadium this offseason, working long hours in rehab to get back to 100 percent. Sharpton was unable to participate in organized team activities (OTAs) and mini-camp this spring, but he's optimistic about his health with the July 28 start of camp less than two weeks away.
"I'm feeling good," Sharpton said Monday at the Methodist Training Center, where he spoke to children at a Texans Youth Football Camp. "I'm still rehabbing and exercising. I kind of transitioned from the training room to the weight room, so more of my rehab is more just traditional weightlifting stuff (now). I've definitely gotten over that hump and I'm feeling good and ready, pretty much almost there ready to go."
Texans quarterback Matt Schaub received full medical clearance last week from his foot surgeon in Charlotte, N.C. Wide receiver Andre Johnson has said he fully expects to be ready for the start of camp after having arthroscopic knee surgery in May.
That leaves Sharpton, along with second-year punter Brett Hartmann (knee), as the Texans' biggest injury question-mark heading into camp.
"I've been running, cutting and doing pretty much everything full-speed," he said. "But there's nothing like actually going out there and running into the A-gap, blowing up a fullback. There's no kind of preparation you could do for that, so I've just got to go out there and test it."
Sharpton's injury interrupted a promising start to his NFL career. A fourth-round pick out of Miami (Fla.) in 2010, he started six games as a rookie following a season-ending Achilles injury to DeMeco Ryans. Ryans was still on the mend from his injury at the start of last season, and Sharpton rotated with him at the Mike (strong inside) position, drawing rave reviews from his coaches and teammates. The hard-hitting linebacker also was one of the Texans' best special teams players.
Sharpton was injured in Week 8 against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Reliant Stadium, bringing all that progress to a screeching halt.
"Mentally, it's been really tough, just because before it happened, I felt like I was playing very well, getting better every week," Sharpton said. "It's kind of like, 'I can't believe it,' but you've just got to go to the old adage that everything happens for a reason. I'm still trying to figure out that reason, but I feel good. I built myself a new quad, so I'm ready to go out there and test it."
With Ryans traded to the Philadelphia Eagles in March, Texans coaches want Sharpton to compete with Bradie James for a starting job on the inside. OTAs could have been a prime opportunity for Sharpton to make a case for himself, but he was instead relegated to watching practice from the sidelines.
"I can't look at it like that," Sharpton said. "I'm just looking positive towards it and I'm just going to go out there and give it my all. I'm going to be physical, I'm going to execute all my plays and, like my coach told me in college, if you give it your best, then don't worry about the rest."