Jerricho Cotchery walked into the New York Jets' facility Friday morning and it felt ... well, normal. This time, there wasn't a cool reception. The only thing cold was the tub he sat in, soaking his surgically repaired back.
Five days after a federal judge declared the NFL lockout illegal, Cotchery and at least two teammates returned to work to train and rehab old injuries. Unlike Tuesday, when Cotchery and five others showed up only to be told they couldn't use any of the facilities, this was like a real work day.
As real as it can get during a labor dispute that seems to be changing by the hour. If the NFL receives its request for a temporary stay, which could happen as soon as today, the players could be locked out again.
"As a player, you just take this day by day," Cotchery told reporters. "You have to embrace this day and embrace the next day. Whatever happens in the future, you can't even worry about that. You have to embrace this time right now. I'm able to come in the building and I'm able to rehab. I'm just embracing this time."
The veteran wide receiver was joined by guard Brandon Moore, the team's assistant player rep, and linebacker David Harris. Linebacker Josh Mauga and long snapper Tanner Purdum also showed up.
On Thursday, after the league announced its plans to comply fully with the judge's ruling, coach Rex Ryan sent an email to every player on the team, informing them the offseason conditioning program is set to begin Monday.
In the email, Ryan also told the players they were welcome to work out Friday, but that it wouldn't count toward workout bonuses and they wouldn't receive the usual per diem. It also indicated that they needed to show proof of insurance on Friday.
Cotchery said it felt good to be back. He didn't get a chance to speak with any coaches -- they were tied up with the draft -- but he spoke to head trainer John Mellody and new strength coach Bill Hughan. He updated Mellody on his back rehab.
"I did everything I thought I was going to do the other day," said Cotchery, who underwent back surgery in February and has been receiving physical therapy at a private facility in New Jersey.
Asked if he'd be upset by another lockout, Cotchery said, "I'm not going to worry about it. I'm going to rehab like crazy until something else comes up."
Moore admitted to having a fleeting thought of being told to leave.
"I was sitting in the tub in the trainer's room and I was on guard to whether security was going to come down and tell us the appeals court ruled in the owners' favor (for a temporary stay)," Moore said.
If there's no stay, Cotchery expects to see a larger turnout Monday, although some players will be out of town, attending Mark Sanchez's workout session in Southern California. Sanchez is expecting several skill-position players to join him for several days of workouts at his old high school in Mission Viejo.
UPDATE: Linebacker Bart Scott, cornerback Kyle Wilson and tackle Vladimir Ducasse also reported.