Sharper: ‘I’ll be ready to play’ if there’s football

Veteran free agent Darren Sharper shouldn’t be considered a casualty of the locked-out offseason. In fact, he’s among a minority of players the NFL lockout is helping rather than hurting.

The lockout has afforded Sharper, who underwent microfracture surgery on his left knee last offseason and was limited to eight games, time to get his body right. While discussing his health and desire to play next season, Sharper, now 35 and approaching his 15th season, subtly suggested this is the first time he’s felt completely healthy.

“It definitely helps, no doubt,” Sharper said of the lockout. “I think having the time off helps your body recover and heal. I feel refreshed. The body feels good, like (it did) pre-surgery when I was healthy. (The lockout) benefits me a lot. … It’s going to help me have a very productive season.”

There’s no hint there that not playing is an option for Sharper. Like any astute free agent, he says he’s open to playing elsewhere, although if he were to give anyone “a bit of a nod,” it would be the Saints.

Either way, Sharper is clear on this: he wants to play. He says the length of the lockout doesn’t change his decision.

“If it goes on longer, it doesn’t really matter,” Sharper said. “As long as we have football this season, I’ll be ready to play. I’ll be working out and I’ll get myself into the shape I usually would. If there is no training camp, I’ll just extend that time for another month.”

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