ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Kevin Jones will start the season on the Detroit Lions' active roster, but doesn't know when he'll play.
The team took the third-year running back off the physically unable to perform list Saturday and kept him on the roster when it was trimmed to the NFL-mandated 53 players. Jones said Monday at his first practice of the season that getting back before the Lions' sixth game Oct. 21 against Tampa Bay would be a bonus.
"I want to definitely be back before six (games)," he said. "But I can start practicing now and take it day by day."
Jones broke a bone in his left foot late last season and early prognoses included the possibility of missing the entire 2007 season. He rushed for 689 yards and six touchdowns on 181 carries in 12 games in '06 and had a career-best 61 receptions for 520 yards.
He missed the final three games with the injury, which required offseason surgery.
"Orthopedically, everything's fine with my foot," he said. "I felt good and the doctors reassured them."
Jones did not take part in any offseason training sessions or minicamps. If the Lions kept Jones on the PUP list, he would not have been eligible to return until the week of Oct. 14, when Detroit has a bye. Now, he can return when he and the team feel he's ready.
Running back Tatum Bell, acquired in an offseason trade that send cornerback Dre' Bly to Denver, is the likely starter for Sunday's opener. T.J. Duckett, who spent last season in Washington, and Brian Calhoun round out the Lions' running backs corps. Duckett likely will be used as a short-yardage specialist.
One of two first-round picks in the 2004 draft, Jones had his best season as a rookie, when he rushed for 1,133 yards and was an alternate on the NFC Pro Bowl squad. Elbow and shoulder injuries cost him three games during his second season.
"He looked good," quarterback Jon Kitna said after Monday's practice, Jones' first in pads. "It's a gradual process, but he said he feels great and that's the key."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press