ALEX Rance's re-entry to the AFL ranks began today, officially stepping out as one of Essendon's development coaches.

And while the premiership Tiger looked at home marshalling the players as they returned to pre-season training, he looked equally comfortable taking part in drills and ball work.

The 32-year-old has played just two games - including one for Essendon's VFL side in July - since calling it quits at the end of 2019, and it remains to be seen whether he can be lured out of retirement to aid a fledging Bombers backline.

Asked whether Rance would slot into Essendon's best side in round one, second-year utility Nik Cox was certain: "He's probably capable, he's that good.

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"It's great to have him out on the track, he's a great voice and he's got a lot of knowledge to pass down to us younger players. That's an awesome thing for us."

Rance will be charged with coaching key-position players and first-to-four-year youngsters in his new role.

A number of senior Bombers also stepped out at their Tullamarine base to get a jump on the competition, including skipper Dyson Heppell, Darcy Parish and Andrew McGrath, despite not being officially due back for another two weeks.

Darcy Parish and Dyson Heppell ahead of Essendon's pre-season training session at The Hangar on November 10, 2021. Picture: Getty Images

The decision to return early was made directly after the Bombers were eliminated by the Bulldogs in September, continuing a 17-year drought without a finals victory.

"(The return) was set in stone from the moment we left. We said we wanted to get back into it as soon as we can, there's still a bit of fire in the belly from that final we lost," Cox said.

After a blistering start to 2021, Cox's form dwindled and the 19-year-old was relegated to the substitute role, something he hopes to avoid in his second season.

Nik Cox and Archie Perkins during Essendon's pre-season session at The Hangar on November 10, 2021. Picture: Getty Images

"It's a big driver of mine, I don't want to fall off (again) like I did. I felt like I was getting a bit tired towards the end of the year.

"That's what's good about a full pre-season, I'm able to go and build my body to play a full season."

New recruit Jake Kelly also trained away from the main group in his first session under new coach Ben Rutten.