Stokes appears ready to roll

For the first time since he injured his right knee against the St. Louis Rams on Oct. 6, J.J. Stokes went full speed in practice with the 49ers on Wednesday. And he looked good doing it, running crisp routes and reaching high in the air for Jeff Garcia passes. But that doesn't entirely guarantee he'll be back in the lineup for Sunday's game against the Oakland Raiders. With Stokes, you just never know.

"I'm going to go out there and play (in practice this week), and unless something happens, I plan on being there this week," Stokes said.

 

After Stokes missed the previous two games with a sprained medial collateral ligament, the Niners had planned on having him back last week against Arizona. Stokes was upgraded from questionable to probable during the week, but he wasn't ready to answer the bell at game time and was inactive for the third consecutive week.

 

"I did the same thing to the other leg last year, and I didn't miss a beat, I didn't miss any games," Stokes said. "This actually felt better than the one last year did. But it just wasn't ready. I think I could have played last week, maybe not as an every-down receiver, but maybe as a fourth receiver. My knee has gotten a lot stronger in the last three, four days."

 

Tai Streets has done an admirable job in Stokes' place as the starter opposite star receiver Terrell Owens, but Niners coach Steve Mariucci has said throughout Stokes' absence that he would return as the starter when fully healthy.

 

Mariucci didn't exactly sound like he was positive that would be the case this week. After Wednesday's afternoon practice, Mariucci said of Stokes, "He looks better to me than he did a week ago. Hopefully, that will stay on course."

 

Stokes, his knee heavily bandaged, did not seem at all encumbered during practice Wednesday.

 

"I'm just going to go all out and if I don't feel that it's right, then I'll back off," Stokes said. "I'm just going to go until my body … if my body doesn't say that it bothers me, then I'm just going to keep on rolling."

 


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