Veteran safety Sharper eager to test healthy knee in 2011

Veteran safety Darren Sharper has played 14 years in the NFL and despite being limited last season by a lingering knee injury, the lockout does not have him thinking about retirement.

"I want to keep playing football," Sharper told The Times-Picayune.

Sharper, who has played for the Saints the last two seasons, said he would like to return to New Orleans but as a free agent, he has to keep his options open.

"There are a lot of teams out there that have a chance to win a championship, and that's my main goal, to be able to play, and play well, and have a chance to vie for another championship."

Sharper, 35, racked up nine interceptions in 2009 when the Saints went on to win Super Bowl XLIV.

Then he underwent knee surgery and missed the first six games of the 2010 season while on the physically unable to perform list. By the time he was deemed fit to play, Malcolm Jenkins had taken over his starting spot at free safety.

Now, a year removed from surgery, Sharper wants to prove last season was fluke and that he's ready to pick up where he left off during the 2009 season.

"I feel like pre-surgery," he said. "My knee is healthy, my body has had time to rest and recover, and I really feel good running. After a workout I don't have to worry about icing it down or anything, I don't have any swelling, and I've been pushing it pretty hard, working out harder than most of the young guys out here training. And I've been able to bounce back the next day."

Now he's just waiting for the owners and players to give him a chance to prove he can still play at high level.

"I'm pretty sure I'm going to have an opportunity to play this year, so it's just a matter of getting the labor negotiations and collective bargaining situation straight," Sharper said. "After that, I'll be like any other guy."

But if he doesn't get a chance to play for a 15th season, Sharper joked that he has a backup plan.

"If football doesn't happen and the lockout continues, I'll probably act," he said. "I've had a chance to shoot a little acting, doing webisodes. It's my first acting. They actually already put me up for an Oscar already for my webisodes."

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