(ALLEN PARK) -- All preliminary indications are good for the return of linebacker Boss Bailey to fulltime duty after missing the Lions' entire 2004 season with surgery to his right knee.
For starters, Bailey's surgery was performed in early August, which means he will have had nearly a full year of recovery time when he goes to training camp in late July..
And, secondly, the knee seems to be holding up well in the rehab work prescribed by the Lions trainers and medical staff..
Although coach Steve Mariucci limited Bailey to one-a-day workouts in the Lions minicamp a month ago, both he and the third-year linebacker from Georgia were enthusiastic about Bailey's condition..
"Everything felt good," Bailey said. "I was so ready to go . . . and everything turned out the way I hoped it would..
"Once I felt going, everything felt comfortable. I felt my reads were pretty good. Can always get better at that but it wasn't as bad as I thought it could be.".
Bailey said the knee felt "100 percent.".
The return of Bailey to fulltime duty as the strong side linebacker is crucial to the maximizing of the Lions young linebacking crew. He started all 16 games as a rookie, showing the speed and athletic ability the Lions were hoping for when they took him in the second round of the 2003 draft..
When he encountered a knee problem midway in training camp of 2004, however, it revived concerns that the knee injury Bailey suffered at Georgia in 2000 might be a recurring problem..
Mariucci says he is optimistic that Bailey is on his way to a full recovery and will be ready for the start of the regular season in September. He will get another chance to evaluate Bailey's comeback during two weeks of workouts that get underway this week.