"I feel [like I'm] back," Rose said after the Bulls' first practice on Saturday. "I'm not worried about anything. I'm reacting when I'm out there, just trying to win every scrimmage and just trying to push everybody to be better."
Rose feels better and acknowledged he felt more comfortable than he did during his practice sessions with the Bulls last season. Rose, who tore his ACL in the first game of the Eastern Conference playoffs on April 28, 2012, practiced with the Bulls throughout the second half of the season but never played in a game, even after being medically cleared by team doctors.
"I got confidence in my knee," Rose said. "There's no testing anymore. It's me just going out there and playing hard and attacking."
Rose admitted that Saturday marked the first time since last season that he did any five-on-five work, preferring to train on his own, or in small groups, during the summer with personal trainer Rob McClanaghan. The difference in his confidence level was noticeable to his teammates and coaches.
"I think he's comfortable," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "His body is strong, real strong, and he's attacking. Today he attacked the basket a lot more than he ever did last year. ... He doesn't have to pace himself like he did so that part's a lot better. The change of direction is much better. The driving and finishing is a lot better. His timing's still not there but it's a good start."
His teammates are happy to see the former MVP back on the floor.
"It felt great [to have him back]," Bulls center Joakim Noah said. "He looks a lot more comfortable. I think everybody's healthy. A good Day 1."
Thibodeau is confident Rose will be able to handle all the scrutiny that will come his way as he finally returns to game action.
"Derrick doesn't get too high, doesn't get too low," Thibodeau said. "He's business-like. Just step by step. He's got a lot of confidence. He's a great leader. I thought he did a great job of running his team so he'll be fine."
The uncertainty that surrounded Rose throughout last season has been replaced by an excitement about being ready to play. His happiness about being back at practice on day one was palpable.
"It's fun just playing on the court," Rose said. "And Thibs is always going to yell and all that stuff. It feels good for him to even yell at us, to yell at me, so I feel part of the team right now."