LAS VEGAS Dwight Howard is feeling like Superman again.
Recovered from a stress fracture to the sternum, Howard said he's ready for Beijing.
The U.S. starting center participated in practice as Team USA opened a four-day training camp on Monday. Howard seemed a bit winded after his first 5-on-5 workout since the NBA playoffs, when the Orlando Magic star got hurt against the Detroit Pistons.
"I feel real good out there," Howard said after the closed workout at Valley High School. "I didn't have any problems. I'm looking to get in better shape. I'm just ready to go.
"It feels good just to be able to play again and knowing that it could have been a lot worse," said Howard, who donned a Superman cape to win the NBA All-Star slam-dunk contest.
Howard was held out of the squad's only workout last month as a precaution. He was expected to be ready to go this week, but his presence still came as a relief to a team whose 12-man roster isn't deep in big men.
Along with Howard, their lone true center, the Americans have 6-foot-10 Chris Bosh and 6-9 Carlos Boozer, who play power forward in the NBA.
The U.S. learned over the weekend that 7-foot-1 Tyson Chandler has an inflamed big toe and will not be available as an alternate.
"Dwight looked really good," coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "I asked him afterwards if he experienced any pain. He said no."
When they selected the team, the Americans favored shooting and athleticism over size. But Krzyzewski said he's not concerned about being short of big men.
"We feel comfortable with Boozer, Bosh (and Howard)," Krzyzewski said.
Krzyzewski said he's prepared to move 6-8 LeBron James to power forward at times. James will start at small forward, but Krzyzewski wants to take advantage of his 250-pound frame and his ability to guard bigger players.
"When we selected this team LeBron is a very unique player," Krzyzewski said. "You don't want to pigeon-hole him and say he's the three. That would be not making effective use of him."
When he's starring for the Cleveland Cavaliers, James spends much of his time on the perimeter. But he said he can adjust, and he expects his teammates to do the same.
"We may get to the point where we guard bigger guys that we don't usually guard because we play on the perimeter a lot," James said. "But as far as us going out and competing, it shouldn't change our role."
Howard, who has played in 25 games for the Americans, downplayed concerns about the team's depth in the frontcourt.
"We really don't need a lot of big men," Howard said. "We've got some of the greatest players in the world on our team. We know what we've got to do to control the paint."
Still, the Americans are happy to have Howard back in the lineup. He said the injury was extremely painful, although he managed to play two games in the playoffs afterward.
"It felt like a heart attack," Howard said. "I wanted to win. I tried not to think about it as much as I could. It was bothering me a lot. There was a lot of days and practices and games where I couldn't even lift my arm up. But I just tried to push through it."
Howard reported no problems after a physical full-court workout against a select team of young NBA players.
"That's what we like to see, guys coming out and being very physical," Howard said. "When we play in the Olympics, everybody's going to be very physical against us."