Joey Bosa stood in the center of the Chargers locker room on Monday, fielding questions for 12 minutes from a throng of reporters.
Everyone wanted to know how the star defensive end's foot was feeling as it's kept him sidelined since the start of the season.
Bosa was eager to provide an update.
Number 99 listed a litany of reasons why he is more confident than ever regarding his return while also explaining why he won't put an exact timetable on it. Overall, the past few weeks have been big for Bosa as he's ramped up his rehab.
"(It's) the first time that I'm really making some strides to get out on the field," he said. "It's been a slow progression ever since I left. We kind of started from square one, literally walking on the field. You have to walk before you run. I know it's kind of silly, but it's kind of how it goes. It's simple walking. Toe walks. Heel walks. Rising up on my toes. It's just been a very slow progression."
Thus, you can see why Bosa was so excited to ramp up his activity.
"It was my first day in cleats," he said. "I actually got in some three-point stances. I've been running straight ahead. The fastest times I've run yet. I'm feeling good. Straight ahead is really good right now. Not much discomfort. It's definitely been something that's tough to deal with; managing but not pushing it too hard, and not being able to get any quality work in the next day because of it being too sore."
Reassurances and further clarity have also given him additional peace of mind.
"We got a very clear message that this was going to be bothering me for a while," he said. "I'm going to have pain. I'm going to have discomfort. Before, any time I took a step (and) felt pain I was like, 'Oh no, that's not good. That shouldn't be happening.' But now, it gives me some confidence it's OK. I'm going to have discomfort and I'm going to have pain, but you need to differentiate between actual shooting pain in my foot and some soreness and discomfort. Since we've gotten that message, we've felt OK with progressing forward and pushing it a bit. And now we're here and it's getting better every single day now. … Ever since I got that message, it's been actually a fun progression now where I've been coming out and moving forward every single day."
Of course, it's only logical that the next question Bosa fielded was when we can expect to see him back doing what he does best, which is wrecking games and terrifying quarterbacks.
"From now, it's going to be a week-to-week type thing," he explained. "People keep asking me when I'm going to be ready. I'm going to be ready when my foot is ready to play. I'm not going to push it a day early, and I'm also not going to be sitting around healthy waiting to play (against) the best matchup. The second my foot is ready (to) practice on a Wednesday, I will play that week. Whether it be next week (or) two weeks from now, I'm feeling very confident in the way it's progressing that I'll be out there in the next few weeks ready to go. (Whether it's) next week, two weeks, three weeks, four weeks or five weeks, I'm feeling confident that surgery is going to be avoided, which is the main goal. Once you have a screw in your foot, you're really not the same after. To be the best asset to my team and myself for the rest of my career, this has been really important to take this slowly and do it the right way."
Even though he's encouraged by his recent progress, don't think for a single second that not being out there isn't eating Bosa up inside. However, at the same time, his optimism is at an all-time high.
"I'm frustrated still every time I watch a game," he said. "Every time I watch another d-end I'm like, 'Shoot, I wish I could be playing.' I had such a great offseason. I was so set to have a great year and all that. You could look back at it. But right now, I'm just pumped to actually be progressing. If you asked me a little while back I would not be optimistic like this. But now, it's definitely gotten a lot easier now that I'm out there doing some more stuff. I got great feedback from the doctor. The last MRI I got, four doctors looked at it and all said it's the best looking one yet. Now I have that confidence that the doc said it's going to bother me (and) it's OK to push. I have that confidence now, and it's exciting to actually see a light at the end of the tunnel. While I don't know exactly how long the tunnel is, at least I see a light at the end of it. It's been bad. It hasn't been a fun experience at all. It's been really boring and really tough watching this season go by without having any impact on it at all after the time and effort put in this offseason."
One thing helping him through all this has been getting to do it alongside his brother.
Nick Bosa suffered a core muscle injury that requires a lengthy recovery, so he left Ohio State to rehab with his brother as he prepares for the NFL Draft.
"I love (having him around)," he said. "We're best friends. We texted and talked almost every single day, but it's not the same. To both be going through similar situations at the same time, obviously having him around has been great."