Butterflies for Bryan Thomas

CORTLAND, N.Y. -- The Surgically Repaired Linebacker -- Bryan Thomas -- made it through the first padded practice unscathed.

But he was worried.

"I'm not going to lie, when I got out there, I was kind of nervous," Thomas said Sunday.

Thomas, 33, ruptured an Achilles' tendon last October, resulting in season-ending surgery. When the season ended, he underwent surgery -- a double-rehab situation. Understandably, he was a bit apprehensive before his first contact practice, but he reported that he "felt great out there. I felt like a kid again."

MESSAGE TO KERLEY: Before Rex Ryan went public Saturday with his criticism of WR Jeremy Kerley, he told Kerley after practice that he was disappointed with him.

"Just motivation, that's how I take it," Kerley said. "I don't know why he would say it, but I'm going to take it as motivation."

OTAH WATCH: Former Panthers OT Jeff Otah (PUP list/knee) has until Tuesday to pass his physical or else the trade is voided. Otah said he's improving daily, but he acknowledged that he's still not 100 percent and is "not sure" if he can pass the physical.

LOOKING FOR LT'S REPLACEMENT: LaDainian Tomlinson did a solid job last season as the third-down back, but now he's gone -- retired -- and the Jets are searching for a replacement. Many assume it will be Joe McKnight, but "not necessarily," RBs coach Anthony Lynn said. "I'm looking for that guy right now."

Lynn said McKnight and Bilal Powell are in the hunt, also mentioning Shonne Greene as an option. Greene will be the workhorse back, so they'd rather not give him more work if possible.