Following a knee injury that cost him the final 11 games of the 2013 season, linebacker Antwan Barnes is back and hopeful he will be ready for training camp.
Barnes had a quiet start to last year but still registered two sacks in five games played. He suffered a knee injury in the Week 5 win at Atlanta and missed the remainder of the year. He acknowledges returning by training camp next month might be a long shot, but is still eyeing it as possible.
“I'm feeling great, continuing to get stronger,” Barnes told Metro New York. “I'm getting there. It does feel better, it really does. I feel it getting stronger. I'm probably past 70 percent at this point. I think it will continue to get better and continue to not just heal, but get stronger.”
The Jets' depth at linebacker is thin and veteran heavy, including Barnes, David Harris and Calvin Pace. Any injury could reshape the group — and not for the better. Getting Barnes onto the field, especially given his understanding of the defense, is key. He's an important part of the linebacker unit and plays an unsung role in head coach Rex Ryan's scheme.
“I will let the trainers and the medical staff handle all that. I don't put put timetables [on injuries], I just want to do work,” Barnes said. “But everyday I'm feeling better and I feel progress. It's good. You don't want to push too hard, hurry back too fast. Then you get hurt again and that doesn't help this team.
“I just want to get back there man and play. I miss football and miss being out there with these guys.”
When asked if he thinks in his gut he will be back by by training camp, Barnes said “probably” and smiled.
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.