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Ahead of schedule


Considering the circumstances, Jaguars defensive tackle Terrance Knighton said he couldn't be more optimistic.

And for that, he couldn't be more thankful.

Knighton, a fourth-year veteran, spoke publicly on Tuesday morning for the first time since undergoing emergency surgery on his left eye on Sunday, April 8. The surgery came hours after Knighton was involved in an incident at a Jacksonville nightclub.

Knighton on Tuesday said he is ahead of schedule in recovery, that doctors expect his left eye to recover fully – and that he expects to be ready when the Jaguars open training camp in late July.

"It's progressing a lot faster than they thought it would," Knighton said Tuesday morning. "I plan on being ready by training camp.

"We're just going to move on that pace, try not to rush it and pray for no setbacks. I haven't had any so far and that's really the concern right now."

Knighton added, "It's a blessing from God that I'm alive and will be able to see again. It's something I won't forget."

Knighton, speaking in the media lobby at EverBank Field as the Jaguars prepared to begin 2012 organized team activities, said while he doesn't expect to participate in OTAs, he is working out and lifting weights. He also said he plans to do some football-related activity on the side in OTAs, which are scheduled to run through June 1.

"I have to be careful not to push it too much and not have any setbacks," he said.

Knighton said though his vision is still blurry, it has improved steadily since the incident. He initially couldn't see from the left eye, then had surgery to have a cataract removed and his vision "progressively got better." At his first appointment following the incident, he said his vision in his left eye was 20-100 and this past Friday, it was 20-60.

He said he normally has 20-10 vision in each eye, and that doctors expect his left eye to return to the level of his right.

"It's a lot better," said Knighton, who said he has had two surgeries – one to have stitches and the other to remove the cataract. "It's still a little blurry. We're just waiting for my left eye to catch up to my right eye. Each doctor's appointment I go to it's looking a little better. It's moving along well."

Added Knighton, "They're happy with the progress and how things are going."

Knighton, who did not wear sunglasses as he spoke Tuesday, opened his remarks by apologizing to the city of Jacksonville and the Jaguars' organization, and also thanked the organization, General Manager Gene Smith, Owner Shad Khan, Head Coach Mike Mularkey, Defensive Coordinator Mel Tucker and Defensive Line Coach Joe Cullen for supporting him.

He also outlined his version of the incident, saying he was on his way out of the club when a friend got involved in an altercation. He said he returned to help the friend, and was struck on his head by a bottle. He said he believes a piece of glass got in his eye, then cut it.

"I couldn't see out of my eye," Knighton said, adding that at that point, "My concern was getting out of the club. My concern wasn't retaliation. My concern was football."

His first thought upon realizing he couldn't see, he said, was, "I have to get out of there."

When he left the club, he said he saw blood on his shirt from his eyelid being cut.

"I immediately panicked," he said. "My concern was getting to my car."

Knighton said he typically takes precautions when he goes out, and said of the club where the incident occurred, "I've been there before and never had problems, but it's one of those times where something happened and I was in the wrong place at the wrong time."

He said he apologized Tuesday because "being in this position (an NFL player), I know the consequences of something like that."

"I have a job to do and right now, I can't do it because of my actions that day," he said. "I could have avoided the situation and I tried to break it up. That's what club security is for. Me seeing a friend, I tried to help, but it's a lesson learned. Like Coach Cullen always tells me and the rest of the guys, 'Nothing good happens after 12 o'clock,' so I apologize to the coaches because I can't participate and work with the guys."

Knighton said while it's hard to not go to the aid of a friend, "I'm sure there are guys around the league who understand that they're football players and are targeted."

"For me, it's a lesson learned and I don't see myself being put in that situation again,'' he said, adding he doesn't plan to go out after midnight anymore.

"Not at all," he said.

Knighton (6-feet-3, 336 pounds), a third-round selection in the 2009 NFL Draft from Temple, started 45 games in his first three seasons, and along with third-year veteran Tyson Alualu gives the Jaguars one of the top young tandems at the position.

He did not miss a game until missing three this past season because of an ankle injury, and has 108 tackles and five sacks in three seasons.

Knighton also has struggled with his weight, reporting to training camp each of the past two seasons overweight. He said the Jaguars' training and strength staff came to see him immediately following the eye surgery, and his weight currently is "actually a lot lower than they projected me to be."

"That's been a positive throughout," he said. "I've stayed consistent throughout the offseason. I'm just making sure I stay disciplined with that."

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