HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The New York Jets hope Mo’s a go for their third preseason game.

Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson returned to practice Sunday after dealing with a sore hamstring the past few weeks, and hopes to play against the Giants on Saturday night at MetLife Stadium.

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“Of course it felt good, just to be out here with my teammates and just getting out there to get some reps,” Wilkerson said after the team’s annual practice at Hofstra University.

Wilkerson hasn’t practiced much since tweaking his left hamstring on Aug. 2. He tried to participate in team drills a week later before having a “minor setback” on Aug. 11. Wilkerson had an MRI exam that revealed no tears, but had been limited to mostly just rehabilitation in the trainer’s area until Sunday.

He participated in positional drills with the other defensive linemen Sunday, and then eventually got work with the backups in 11-on-11 team drills.

“He’s feeling a lot better,” coach Todd Bowles said. “He was moving pretty good.”

Bowles said the defensive end will likely play in the third preseason game — typically the final dress rehearsal for starters leading up to the regular season. Bowles expects the starters to play at least a half against the Giants.

“We’ll bring him along slowly,” Bowles said of Wilkerson. “But he’ll practice this week and depending on any setbacks, he’ll play this weekend.”

Wilkerson showed no hesitation on one play as he chased after quarterback Bryce Petty, who rolled out to his right as the defensive end pursued him.

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“It felt good today,” Wilkerson said. “That’s why I got some reps with the team (drills), so hopefully I can continue to progress throughout the week.”

Wilkerson is one of the team’s defensive leaders, but has had to watch the Jets’ first two preseason games as a spectator.

“Everybody knows me and you guys know me, I want to be out there with my teammates, but of course I’ve got to make sure I’m healthy before I get out there,” he said. “I’m glad to be out here. I’m going to continue to get treatment, and hopefully it feels good come Saturday so I can play.”

The 25-year-old Wilkerson, entering the final year of his rookie contract and seeking a long-term extension, knows he’s a bit behind his teammates but thinks he can quickly get up to speed. Bowles said Wilkerson will have to work himself back into “football shape” over the next several days.

“It’s all about the reps out here in practice,” Wilkerson said. “I just need practice reps to get in the flow with my teammates. I haven’t been out there in weeks. Those guys have been out there installing and I haven’t been out there, so I just need to catch up a little. It’s football and it’s what I love to do. I just have to get caught up and I’ll do that.”

Just as they’re getting one key defensive player back, the Jets might be down another as rookie linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin left practice with a knee injury. He appeared to get hurt during pass-rushing drills, when he went down and grabbed at his left leg. Mauldin was able to walk off the field on his own, but didn’t return.

Mauldin was the team’s third-round pick out of Louisville, and has been having a solid camp.

“I’m going to go inside and see how bad, or how good it is,” said Bowles, who had no immediate word on the severity of the injury.

NOTES: The Jets’ facility was on the Hofstra campus from 1968 until the team moved to its current home in Florham Park, New Jersey, after training camp in 2008. G Willie Colon and DE Stephen Bowen played their college ball at Hofstra, and Bowles was an assistant on the Jets’ coaching staff in 2000. “It’s been about 10 years since I played on this field,” Bowen said. “Willie and I were in the locker room just reminiscing. So, yeah, it feels good to be back.” … The Jets said more than 11,000 fans were on hand at Hofstra … Bowles said WR Shaq Evans is “day-to-day or week-to-week” with a sprained back that the coach described as a “hyperextension.” … WR Jeremy Kerley, RB Daryl Richardson and CB Durell Eskridge all sat out practice after suffering concussions against Atlanta. … WR Chris Owusu (concussion) wore a red non-contact jersey and participated in punt returns and positional drills.

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