The comeback trail for Antwan Odom hasn't been exactly a walk in the park. It's been more like a marathon through a minefield.
But despite all of the excitement, Odom expects to line up at right end in Foxboro Sept. 12 against the Patriots in the opener. That's a full 329 days since he blew out his Achilles against Houston at Paul Brown Stadium in the sixth game of a season he led the NFL with eight sacks.
The latest glitch came against Denver Aug. 15 when he reaggravated an old meniscus injury in his knee and he's been shelved since. That came after he sat out about a week of training camp when he got sick and lost enough weight to drop him to about 250 pounds.
The bout got Odom a little concerned because that's not far off where he played in 2008, a season that was disappointing enough that he vowed to show up at about 280 pounds the next year. And it worked. The added weight didn't hurt his speed but gave him enough strength that he was able to work inside at tackle and cause a bevy of matchup problems.
But now he says he's back to 265 pounds and rising. It helps that he's sleeping better, too.
One of the reasons that Odom showed up in such great shape last season is he had his sleep apnea diagnosed. It was a weird spring because he also found out that his lack of sleep had spawned narcolepsy. And he found out the hard way.
"It was after I had worked out down here one day and I fell asleep driving," Odom said. "It was in Mason and I was driving and the next thing I knew I heard a bang. I had sideswiped somebody. Yeah, it was scary. I had to get it checked before I was able to drive again."
Odom says he's been able to control it with medication and the machine he uses during the night has also been a big help to monitor the sleep apnea. The mask-like contraption fits over his face and prevents his breathing from stopping.
He says the machine played a role in his sickness because he went for a few weeks not using it because of his travel schedule and it developed bacteria. But now that he's in a more regular routine, he's feeling the benefits.
"You wake up 10 times an hour, how much sleep are you going to get?" Odom asked. "It's been a big help and made me feel a lot better. They always talk about getting the proper sleep, and they're right. It's made a big difference for me."
The big question remains the Achilles. This is a guy whose game is built on speed and first-step quickness and they say this type of injury is like an ACL. It will be better in Year Two rather than the first year of rehab, and the central question is if he's going to have the same zip off the snap.
Before he tweaked the knee, Odom said he felt like he did before the injury, and it certainly had been holding up because he completed a couple of two-a-days and he didn't miss a practice until he got sick.
"So far, so good," he said.