Gary Baxter, DB, CLE
Bilateral Patella Tendon Tears
Huddle Up: Browns' veteran DB Gary Baxter, who tore the patella tendons in his right and left knees during an October game against the Broncos last year, has made an unbelievably quick recovery and there is a chance that he could make his return to the field as early mid season. Baxter had surgery on both knees to reattach the patella tendons two days after rupturing them and the initial prognosis was not good. Team physicians told Baxter that he would be out for at least one year and he would possibly miss the entire 2007 season. The odds were against him but Baxter set out to prove them wrong. He began walking only a month after the surgery and in May he started jogging. According to reports he's now jogging at a fast pace but he still isn't cutting or planting and the team isn't sure when he'll be cleared to practice with the team. Head coach Romeo Crennel told reporters that Baxter hasn't suffered any setbacks in his recovery and that he wouldn't be surprised if he was allowed to take part in some of the individual drills during training camp. But there is a good chance that he will open on the regular season on the teams PUP list, which means he won't be eligible to play until Week 6.
Bertrand Berry, LB, ARI
Huddle Up: Cardinals' LB Bertrand Berry, who suffered a torn triceps muscle in a game in November last year, was held out of off-season team workouts and drills as a precaution but according to reports the team expects him to take part in training camp and be ready for the start of training camp. Berry recently told reporters that he was in great shape and that he was ready to make the move from defensive to outside linebacker. The medical staff may keep him limited at the start of training camp, but he should be healthy when the Cardinals kick off the regular season.
Greg Ellis, LB, DAL
Ruptured Achilles' Tendon
Huddle Up: According to reports Cowboys' LB Greg Ellis will undergo a physical soon to see if he will be ready to practice when training camp begins. Ellis, who ruptured his left Achilles' tendon in a game last October, had surgery to repair the damage and has since made steady progress in his recovery. He did not take part in any team practices or workouts during the off season and the pain in his knee limited him to light individual work. Ellis recently told reporters that he wasn't sure when he would be ready to play and that he was prepared to miss training camp if he wasn't back to full speed. Head coach Wade Phillips said that rookie Anthony Spencer will get a lot of playing time while Ellis is limited but that the starting job belongs to Ellis when he's healthy enough to contribute. We'll keep you posted.
Rodney Harrison, DB, NE
Huddle Up: Patriots' DB Rodney Harrison, who missed the playoffs because of a grade 2 sprain or partially torn MCL in his right knee, has completely recovered from the injury and he will be healthy when training camp begins. Harrison hurt his knee during the team's regular season finale and he was unable to play in the post season. According to reports the injury did not require surgery and after only a month of rehab he was back running. Harrison looked good during the team's last two minicamps and his knee should be a none issue this upcoming season.
Erasmus James, DL, MIN
Huddle Up: Vikings' DL Erasmus James, who had season-ending surgery to repair a torn ACL in his left knee in September last year, has come a long way in his recovery and according to reports there is a chance that he could be cleared to take part in training camp very soon. James reportedly had a second surgery back February to clean up some troublesome scar tissue and there was some concern that he may have to open up training camp on the PUP list. But according to the team's medical staff James is on schedule to be ready for the start of camp, which is great news for the Vikings defense. He'll probably be a little rusty to start the season, but if he doesn't suffer any setbacks he should be playing at full speed by Week 5.
Patrick Kerney, DL, SEA
Torn Pectoral Muscle
Huddle Up: According to reports Seahawks' DL Patrick Kerney has nearly completely recovered from pectoral muscle surgery and team officials expect him to be available when training camp begins. Kerney ruptured his right pectoral (chest) muscle in a game with the Falcons in November last season. The medical staff initially believed that the injury was just a strain but an MRI confirmed that the muscle had completely torn. The Seahawks signed him to a big contract during the off-season and while he hasn't been cleared to take part in full contact drills, he was at almost every minicamp practice running and working with athletic trainers on the side. Head coach Mike Holmgren recently told reporters that Kerney would enter training camp as a starter, which indicates that they expect him to be healthy and ready to contribute.
David Pollack, LB, CIN
Huddle Up: Bengals' LB David Pollack, who broke a bone in his neck during a game last September, has already been ruled out for the 2007 season. However the team's medical staff has been pleased with his recovery from neck surgery and they think that with a little luck he could be back on the field sometime next year. Doctors initially told Pollack that his neck injury and subsequent surgery would end his career. But according to reports Pollack has really worked hard and he intends to resume his football career next season.
Derek Smith, LB, SF
Huddle Up: 49ers' LB Derek Smith, who was suffering from an unusual eye problem last year, had surgery in the off-season and according to reports his vision has returned to normal and he is ready for the start of the 2007 season. Smith apparently suffered damage to a muscle connected to his left eye that resulted in a condition known as vertical diplopia or "lazy eye syndrome." Basically the condition prevented Smith from moving his eyeball up and to the left. Not only did this affect his peripheral vision, but it also caused double vision, affected his depth perception and he often complained of discomfort in his eye while he played and suffered from bouts of dizziness after he played. The team's medical staff isn't sure when the injury occurred but they believe that an accumulation of hits over the years may have lead to the problem. Smith decided to forego corrective surgery and attempted to play through the condition last season but he definitely wasn't the same player. The medical staff even fitted his helmet with a special visor that had a built in prism on the left side. But Smith felt that the visor wasn't working so he stopped using it. Smith finally had corrective surgery in the off-season and according to reports the procedure was a success. The team's medical staff told reporters that physicians manipulated the compromised muscle to help keep his left eye properly aligned with the right. He returned to the football field on a limited basis only a couple of months later and he's progressed well. He was very involved in the team's May and June minicamps and workouts and he should be cleared for contact when training camp begins. If his vision holds up Smith could treat his owners to a big season.
Shawntae Spencer, DB, SF
Arthroscopic Foot Surgery
Huddle Up: According to reports 49ers' DB Shawntae Spencer had off season arthroscopic foot surgery to remove several bone chips. And while he was limited to individual workouts and held out several of the team's OTA's as a precaution the team expects him to be healthy for the start of training camp. Spencer complained of soreness and stiffness in his foot and ankle towards the end of last season and an MRI after the last regular season game revealed that loose particles were probably causing the discomfort. The good news is that Spencer is no longer having any problems with his foot or ankle. Unfortunately he's lost a lot of ground in his fight with Walt Harris for a starting job. But he'll have a chance to win the job during preseason.
Marcus Washington, LB, WAS
Arthroscopic Hip and Elbow Surgery / Sprained Knee
Huddle Up: Redskins' LB Marcus Washington, who played through a series of injuries last year that eventually lead to the premature end of his season, is finally back to full strength and has been cleared by the team's medical staff to take part in training camp. Washington began to complain of pain and tightness in his left hip after Week 3 and according to reports the problem got progressively worse. But it wasn't the hip injury the ended his season. Washington reportedly sprained a ligament in his knee and he was forced to miss the final two games of the season. His knee quickly recovered but his hip remained a problem and the team decided that the best way to deal with it was to correct it surgically. Before they got to his hip Washington underwent arthroscopic surgery on his elbow. The exact nature of his elbow surgery has not been made public, but it is believed that it was a minor cleanup procedure that required little recovery time. A month later in February Washington finally underwent arthroscopic surgery on his hip and by all accounts the procedure was a success. He began running at full speed in May and he was eventually cleared to take part in the team's June workouts. Washington appears to be completely healthy so don't be surprised if he has a big year.
Brian Young, DL, NO
Huddle Up: Saints' DL Brian Young recently underwent surgery to repair a broken bone in his foot and according to reports he will miss at least half of training camp. Young reportedly broke his foot while doing an individual workout in Florida and an X-ray confirmed that surgery was necessary to correct the problem. He's not expected to start jogging again for another week or two and team officials aren't expecting him back until at least the middle of August. They still believe that he will be ready when the regular season begin, but his absence will allow backups Antwan Lake, Rodney Leslie and Kendrick Clancy the chance to earn playing time.