Early assessments for second-year safety Terrence Brooks’ torn MCL and ACL, which he suffered last December, had team officials predicting he wouldn’t be ready for the beginning of this season and might not play at all.
That didn’t sit well with Brooks, a 2014 third-round NFL draft pick out of Florida State who was taken off the physically unable to perform list Tuesday and participated in his first training camp practice of the summer.
“I definitely didn’t want to sit out this whole year,” Brooks said. “I put it in my mind to come back even stronger than I was before. I had some stuff last year that I didn’t like — that’s not in my game — but this year, I’ve got a totally different mindset. The knee injury, I feel like it was a blessing for me. It was a wake-up call, like, ‘Hey, get yourself going. Take this serious. This is your job now.’ I realize that this year.”
Brooks, who played defensive snaps in seven games as a rookie, performed well at times last season, but that occasionally allowed big plays. This year, his return helps the team’s safety depth, which took a hit when Matt Elam tore his biceps on Aug. 1. Brooks participated in some team and seven-on-seven passing drills Wednesday, slotting in with the second-team defense alongside Anthony Levine.
Coach John Harbaugh said his return has been discussed for about a week, and Brooks got the news Monday evening. Brooks said he was so excited he woke up before his alarm Tuesday morning, and was equally happy with what he was able to do on the field.
It wasn’t his first action since the Dec. 14 injury -- Brooks participated in offseason workouts and was on the field during mandatory minicamp, but was held back at the beginning of training camp.
Brooks said he’s worked every day to get back sooner than expected, and while he was happy with how he played, there were moments when his well-being came before making a play.
“Any guy that has his injury, he won’t go out there and be fully confident right off the bat,” Brooks said. “He definitely might be a little cautious about running into people or jumping out full bore. That was the thing I went through today. There were some plays I got there when I knew I could have made that play if I wasn’t hurt. I just didn’t want to risk anything.”
Brooks plans to get increasingly more repetitions each day and build up to full participation as camp progresses. He seemed pessimistic about his chances to play in Saturday’s preseason game against the Eagles, but Harbaugh said the practices beginning Wednesday in Philadelphia would be important for him.
“We felt like he’s way ahead of his rehab,” Harbaugh said. “I think you never know how a guy is going to move around, football wise, until he starts moving around football wise. You have to get in football shape. This week in Philly will be good for him that way. Get him up to speed, get him going.”
Cornerback Asa Jackson, who left last week’s preseason opener with a knee injury and hasn’t practiced since, also returned, as did guard Robert Myers, who has missed just under two weeks with a concussion.
Rookie wide receiver Breshad Perriman remained out with a knee injury he suffered on July 30, while first-year tight end Maxx Williams, who left early on Monday, also missed practice Tuesday.
Wide receiver Darren Waller returned after leaving practice early Monday, while receiver Michael Campanaro was back after missing practice, as well.
Also not practicing were cornerbacks Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb (hamstring), guards Kelechi Osemele and John Urschel (concussion), tackle Jah Reid, tackle Darryl Baldwin, and outside linebacker Steven Means (groin).
The team will travel to Philadelphia for three joint practices with the Eagles that begin Wednesday. Regular season, closed practice rules take effect when they’re back on the field Monday.