A STRONG push from Chris Yarran over the past two weeks has forced Richmond to step away from its lengthy timeline for his return, putting the prized recruit back in the frame to play early this season.
Yarran, who is returning from two calf injuries over the summer, was initially expected to miss the first seven rounds when coach Damien Hardwick ruled him out for the first third of the season.
But his form in an extended training run on Sunday has fuelled suggestions he could even play in the Tigers' season opener against his old club Carlton.
Football manager Dan Richardson said there was no timeline now for the 25-year-old's return, but the club was encouraged by his progress.
"We're happy with the work rate and the effort he's displaying at the moment," Richardson told AFL.com.au.
"That's what we want to see and where that takes him we'll see."
Yarran backed up the optimism for an early return in Sunday's 90-minute session, completing all training and then topping up with extra running at Punt Road Oval.
Only seven Tigers have not been used in the first two NAB Challenge matches, and of those seven, vice-captain Brett Deledio and ruckman Shaun Hampson are expected to return for Thursday night's clash against Port Adelaide.
Nathan Drummond, who is returning from a knee reconstruction, and Reece McKenzie are on modified programs and not available for selection.
Meanwhile key position players Todd Elton and Liam McBean are in line to play VFL practice games ahead of round one.