For veteran cornerback Terrence McGee it's been a long, arduous process to get his surgically repaired knee back into playing form. After months of rehabilitation, including a lengthy daily routine just to get ready for practice, he is on the precipice of suiting up for preseason game action.
"Terrence is making better leaps getting well," said head coach Chan Gailey. "He's taken more reps each of the last two or three practices and that's very encouraging."
"I'm feeling a little bit better," McGee told Buffalobills.com. "It's one of those things where you feel better once every two weeks. You make progress like that. Now I'm feeling a little bit of progress out here. It's not where I want it to be, but it's way better than when I first got to camp so I'm happy about that."
Head coach Chan Gailey will consult with the team's athletic trainers and strength and conditioning staff to accurately assess whether McGee is fit to return and see time in this week's preseason game against Pittsburgh or the preseason finale at Detroit the following Thursday.
"We haven't decided that," said Gailey. "We're still talking about what would be the best direction to go with Terrence. Let us see how the rest of the week goes. The more reps he takes without any setbacks the better."
Returning from surgery to repair a torn patellar tendon in his knee has been a lesson in patience. It's a rehabilitation that rewards a player with incremental improvement. All of those small advances added together however, have him very close to being game ready.
"It's baby steps, but from where I was it is a significant stride," said McGee. "I definitely can feel the difference in my movements out there. I'm still not where I want to be, but it's better than where it was."
McGee's knee is structurally sound and has been for months. Returning the muscles in and around his knee to full strength is the final hurdle.
"I've never had a problem with trusting it," he said. "A lot of people ask me if I don't have any confidence in it. That's not the problem. I've never had that feeling where it's going to happen again. Right now on certain moves my leg just doesn't have the strength like I normally would. So it won't allow me to do certain things. But I don't have any confidence issues worrying about if it's going to tear again."
So although lining up for 30 or 40 plays in a game is something McGee's knee is not ready for at this point, playing 10 or 12 and re-adjusting to live action again is realistic.
"I've got to be ready for whenever they put me in the game, whether it's this game or the Detroit game," he said. "I haven't had any football contact in a while. Just to get a feel of the game, make a tackle, things like that. Right now I really haven't hit anybody so I have to get back to that."
Saturday against Pittsburgh could very well be that opportunity.