Chad Jones' surgically repaired leg was feeling sore.
But nothing could wipe the smile off his face. The New York Giants safety is attempting to make a comeback after having his left leg mangled in a car accident during the summer of 2010.
He underwent numerous surgeries to save his left leg and foot, and now he's hoping to make his comeback this summer at training camp. Being with his teammates at the Giants' first OTA of the offseason is another positive step.
"It definitely feels good breathing that New York Giants air up," Jones said.
Jones, whose jersey number is now 43, has done some jogging, light running, backpedaling and lateral drills while continuing to rehab his leg under the Giants' supervision this week.
While he hasn't done much more than a rehabbing player on injured reserve might do at this time of the year, Jones has still impressed and inspired his teammates.
The safety has noticed teammates watching him on the field and in the weight room.
"It is inspiring man," said cornerback Terrell Thomas, who is rebounding from a torn ACL injury suffered last preseason. "It really is. Look at me, I am nothing compared to him. This guy [nearly] had his leg amputated and for him to be running around, the Giants giving him another shot, it shows so much respect that the Giants organization has for him and how much hard work he has put in to get to this stage."
General manager Jerry Reese, though, warns that the 2010 third-round pick out LSU still has a long road back before he can accomplish his dream of playing pro football.
"Personally, I think he has a long ways to go," Reese said. "He is rehabbing. If you see him on the field, you will see him rehabbing more than in drills with what the players are doing in OTAs. We wanted to get him in here and have our doctors see him, have our trainers put their hands on him, evaluate him and see where he is.
"I still think he has a ways to go before he gets out there and plays in the National Football League."
Jones acknowledges as much, and he understands how far he has come and how much further he has to go. Jones says conditioning is his biggest challenge right now since his leg, hamstrings and quads all get a little sore.
"From Day 1, doctors were saying that I wasn't even going to be able to walk again and that I was lucky that they were able to save my leg and the foot," Jones said. "I actually remember everything vividly [from the accident]. I definitely will never forget a lot of ups and downs, from waking up that next morning, to the whole long process of me rehabbing, to the first day I got out of a boot, to the first day of me putting pressure on my leg, to the first day I got a shoe until now."