The 6-foot-2, 290-pound Rankins was hoping for much of the same this season but then was slowed in fall camp by a severe ankle sprain.
"It was tough because I had worked hard on my conditioning," Rankins said.
Rankins missed the first game of the season but has worked in some in the last two games and is ready to get back to full go with the Cardinals. He sprained the ankle on the third day of fall camp – the first day in full pads.
In wins Eastern Kentucky and Kentucky, Rankins played some reps and then saw more time against Florida International. He said an open week gives him more time and he should be "just fine" on Saturday against Temple.
"The first game I wasn't ready, the EKU game I got my feet wet and Kentucky it was the same thing," Rankins said. "Against FIU I was feeling a little more comfortable. It's coming a long."
In his limited time, Rankins has three tackles, including a tackle for a loss and a sack. He had seven tackles last season, including a sack for an 11-yard loss in the Sugar Bowl win over Florida.
Rankins said the hardest part has been conditioning because the time off just "kind of threw me off a bit."
"I am still out here going hard, trying to get my wind back," Rankins said. "I feel like I am getting there. It's just a day-to-day process.
"I have a great group of guys around me, they don't let me slack off."
Rankins has the size and the ability to help the defensive line with the added depth and said he want to make a difference.
"I can play basically the entire front," he said. "I can go give Brandon Dunn a spell or go give Roy Philon a breather. I can help out a lot."
Dunn, a senior lineman, said he knows Rankins is not all the way back with his conditioning but that he's going to help.
"It's just a mind game with Sheldon," Dunn said. "He's feeling good and running well, getting more confidence. I call him the animal and the animal is back."