Penguins right winger James Neal returned to full-team practice for the first time in over a month on Thursday afternoon at Southpointe.

Neal, 26, has been out of the lineup since leaving the season opener Oct. 3 vs. New Jersey with an upper-body injury.

“It feels good to be back with the team,” Neal said. “It’s always exciting to get back into the swing of things and get out there with the guys when you haven’t been around for a long time.”

There is no timetable on his return to the lineup. Though due to the nature of his injury and the fact that he couldn’t maintain his conditioning throughout the healing process, it will take some time for him to regain his game shape.

“He’s got a ways of work he’s doing now to get back in that shape,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “To have physicality, five-on-five play in traffic, that’s another level for James. Today was Day 1 of that. It’s a little bit different if you have an injury where you can skate for three weeks and then get back to practice for one or two days. He’s on a little bit longer of a progression than that.”

Neal was cleared for full practice and participated in every drill, rush and puck battle. Other than regaining his conditioning, Neal needs to test the injury in contact sessions.

“There wasn’t much physicality in today’s practice. That’s normal. I did some stuff after practice, a little more bumping,” he said. “That’s something I’m going to have to do a little bit more of to get a real good feel of how hard I can go. Today is my best day so far. I’m excited.”