TAMPA — Opponents of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are about to learn something the New York Jets and their past opponents already know: There are certain rules you have to abide by when facing cornerback Darrelle Revis.
For example, don't throw the ball across the field to a Revis-covered player along the far sideline.
“If you do, he will pick it,'' said Jets coach Rex Ryan, who coached Revis for four seasons, until the Bucs traded a pair of drafts picks to the Jets in April to acquire the four-time Pro Bowler.
“Yeah, we had some Revis rules that you don't break, and that was one of them. There are several others, and Tampa will learn them and their opponents will learn them.''
Jets starting quarterback Geno Smith might be in the process of learning those Revis rules the hard way. The rookie told reporters in New York this week he doesn't believe it's “necessary'' to study tape of Revis in advance of his game against the Bucs at the Meadowlands on Sunday.
Revis, who will face his former teammates in his first game since tearing the ACL in his left knee in Week 2 last season, laughed at the notion Wednesday.
“I would hope that if you're going to play against another opponent, you should study everybody,'' Revis said between chuckles. “I mean, if that's the case — I'm studying him. Just to let him know, I'm studying him.''
Bucs coach Greg Schiano has been studying Revis for weeks. He's still not sure what he's seeing, whether it's the old elite-level Revis or something slightly less intimidating. He doesn't have a frame of reference. All Schiano knows is Revis looks ready to play in an NFL game again, though he can't say for sure how much Revis will play in his Bucs debut.
“We'll just have to watch and see how it goes,'' Schiano said. “I won't go into this with too much of a preconceived notion. Let's see what the conditions are like, let's see how he's feeling.
“And the other thing that always gets you in situations like this is emotion. That can tire you out, as well. So, for me to sit down and make a predetermined plan wouldn't be prudent.''
Revis has no idea what his emotions will be when he takes the field against the team that drafted him and employed him for the first six years of his career.
“I'm really not trying to think about all that right now,'' he said. “That will be something that will come up in the moment at that time, in those seconds and at that minute.
“As of right now, I'm just trying to get prepared, trying to sit here and study (the Jets) offense. It's a totally new offense from what we had when I was there, so I just have to study everything and get it down.''
The Jets' offense might be new, but a lot of the components aren't. The receiving corps, including Santonio Holmes, Stephen Hill and Jeremy Kerley, returns virtually intact.
“I know these guys,'' Revis said. “I played against them every day in practice, so I have a bunch of tips and I've been sharing them with our secondary. So, we'll go into this game feeling real comfortable.''
Revis is trying to help the Bucs find a comfort zone on the offensive side of the ball, as well. For days, he's been passing on tips about the Jets' defensive tendencies to offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan.
“It's just one of those things (you do) when a player comes over from another team,'' he said. “I'll spill the beans, let (Sullivan) know what coach Ryan used to run, what he likes to do. It's almost like stealing.''
Ryan grew accustomed to watching Revis steal passes from other teams. It was a joy to coach him, he said. But Ryan admits he now finds himself in a rather unenviable position of having to game-plan against Revis.
“It should be about how you attack him, but it's probably more about how you defend against him,'' Ryan said. “You certainly have to look at him differently than you do any other corner.
“He's a rare athlete. He's the kind of guy that only comes around once every 15-20 years, if that. He really is a special player. He was the premier corner in football and a physical player who shows up every day to compete.''
Revis will show up Sunday, but he is not quite sure which Revis will take the field. There are moments, he said, when he feels it will be the Revis of old and others where he's not so sure.
“Sometimes there are spurts where I feel it, and sometimes I don't,'' Revis said. “I've been practicing and making plays, but sometimes there are plays that maybe aren't so good.
“I've heard a bunch of stories, and a lot of people say (after ACL surgery) you just have to go out there and let it rip. So, it's something that, for me, I just have to go out there and play ball.''
After months of waiting, Revis' chance has finally arrived.