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2008 Off-Season Injury Report - Running Backs
Philip Gentles
July 28, 2008
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Ronnie Brown, MIA - Reconstructive Knee Surgery

Dolphins' RB Ronnie Brown has progressed well in his recovery from ACL surgery and although he has been cleared to participate in training camp he will practice on a limited basis. Brown tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during a game in October last year and he had it surgically repaired a few weeks later. According to reports he began running in February and he participated in light individual drills during minicamp workouts in May. Brown returned to team drills for the first time since the surgery in June and reportedly looked strong and agile. Head coach Tony Sparano told reporters that Brown worked very hard during his rehab and that the team is very pleased with his recovery. He went on to say that Brown would likely be limited to start training camp and that he probably wouldn't see a lot of contact until sometime during the preseason. Ricky Williams, who is completely recovered from a torn pectoral muscle, has been the biggest story during the off-season. He has reportedly looked great in workouts and it appears that Brown and Williams will split carries when the regular season begins.

Frank Gore, SF - High Ankle Sprain

According to reports 49ers' RB Frank Gore, who was bothered by a high ankle sprain last season, has made a complete recovery and he is ready for training camp. Gore had a disappointing 2007 season and his injured ankle was part of the problem. He spent several months in the off-season working with the training staff to strength his ankle and he reportedly looked health and strong during team workouts in May and June. 49ers offensive coordinator Mike Martz told reporters that Gore's ankle was not an issue and that he plans on using him as the centerpiece of the offense this season.

Kenny Irons, CIN - Reconstructive Knee Surgery

The Cincinnati Bengals waived RB this past week after failing a team physical. Irons, who had surgery to reconstruct and repair a torn ACL in his knee prior to the start of the 2007 regular season, has reportedly struggled in his recovery. He was seen doing some light running and cutting in May but he continued to experience pain, discomfort and inflammation after activity and this inability to become pain-free has slowed his progress. The Bengals don't start training camp until Monday, but according to reports he was unable to pass a team physical this past week and the medical staff isn't sure if and when he will be able to return to the field. The decision to release him is a bit surprising so there must be more to this story than what is being reported. Several local newspapers have reported that the Bengals will sign him to a more cap-friendly contract after he clears waivers. No matter what happens it appears the Irons will not be a fantasy factor this upcoming season.

Steven Jackson, STL - Strained Groin / Sprained Ankle

Rams' RB Steven Jackson was limited during workouts in June because of a strained groin and a sprained ankle. However Jackson told reporters that he is "100 percent" healthy and that he is ready to practice as soon as he gets a new contract. According to reports Jackson suffered what the team's medical staff called a minor groin injury during an off-season practice and he also complained of pain and discomfort in his ankle. Neither injury was serious, but the team decided to limit his involvement in June OTA's as a precaution. Head coach Scott Linehan said that Jackson is completely healthy and he indicated that the team was in negotiations with him in regards to a new contract and that he hoped to have him at practice soon.

Larry Johnson, KC - Fractured Foot

According to reports Chiefs' RB Larry Johnson, who spent a large portion of the off-season recovering from a fractured foot, will participate in training camp workouts and the team expects him to be completely healthy when the regular season begins. Johnson cracked and slightly shifted a bone in his fourth toe during a game in November last year and he was eventually placed on Injured Reserve. Surgery was not needed to repair the injury however he was placed in a protective-walking boot for several months. He was held out of workouts in April and was limited during practices in May but he was reportedly participating at full speed in team drills during June OTA's. His foot responded well to the increase in activity, however he was held out of the team's final practices as a precaution. It looks like the team is going to ease him back and he will likely be held out of the first couple of preseason games. But if all goes well he should be ready for Week 1 of the regular season.

Kevin Jones, CHI - Reconstructive Knee Surgery

Veteran RB Kevin Jones, who recently signed a one-year contract with the Bears, is still recovering from reconstructive knee surgery and he has been placed on the team's active PUP list for the start of training camp. Jones tore the anterior cruciate ligament and sprained the medical collateral ligament in his right knee during a game in December last year. He had the damage surgically repaired and he missed the remainder of the season as a result. Jones spent several months in an extensive rehabilitation program and according to reports he has made steady progress and the team hopes that he will be cleared for contact sometime in August. Bears' officials aren't sure when he will be removed from the PUP list, but he has been running and working out on the side of the field while the team practiced this week. There are reports that Jones could actually start the regular season on the PUP list, which means he will not be able to play in a regular season game until after Week 6. But he still has over a month to complete his recovery. We will keep you posted on his progress.

Deuce McAllister, NO - Reconstructive Knee Surgery / Microfracture Surgery

Saints' RB Deuce McAllister is trying to come back from a pair of surgeries, reconstructive surgery on his left knee and microfracture surgery on his right knee, and according to reports not only is he participating in training camp but he's taking a lot of reps with the first-team offense. McAllister tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee back in September last year and immediately had surgery to reconstruct the ligament and repair the damage. Deuce reportedly dealt with pain and discomfort in his right knee (he tore the ACL in this knee back in 2005 and had several other surgeries on the same joint to repair cartilage damage) and team physicians decided that the only chance of him continuing his football career was to send him for microfracture surgery. The procedures on both knees were considered successful and he immediately started what has turned out to be a long and extensive rehabilitation. He began running at full speed in early May and he was able to take part in June OTA's although he was limited to individual drills. Team officials said that he looked good in practice in June and that his knees held up well. The Saints recently started training camp and McAllister reported 5 pounds under his playing weight from a year ago. He will likely be limited to one practice per day for the remainder of training camp as a precaution, but the team is still counting on him to be a big part of the offense. His knees seem to be OK now, but there is no telling how long they will be able to hold up once the regular season begins and he is exposed to full contact.
Update: An MRI was performed on McAllister's left knee a day after it became swollen after Friday's practice. According to reports the medical staff had to drain the fluid from his knee and he sat out Saturday morning's practice while getting it examined. The good news is that the MRI came back negative and he was able to take part in several drills during Saturday's afternoon session. This is obviously a bad way to start training camp. We'll keep you posted on his progress.

Willie Parker, PIT - Fractured Fibula

The Steelers' medical staff expects RB Willie Parker, who ended the 2007 season in Injured Reserve because of a fractured right leg, to be ready for the start of training camp on Monday. Parker fractured his right fibula during a game in December last year and he began running in March and was running, jumping and cutting at full speed by the middle of April. He participation in May minicamps and June OTA's was limited as a precaution, and Parker told reporters last month that his leg was completely healed. So the good news is that he is finally healthy. Unfortunately the addition of rookie Rashard Mendenhell does complicate things for him. Parker recently admitted that he would likely lose carries to Mendenhell this year and local media outlets believe that the two will be sharing the load by mid-season.

Adrian Peterson, CHI - Appendectomy

Bears' RB Adrian Peterson underwent an appendectomy back in June and after having over a month to recover he was able to take the field for the start of training camp this past Wednesday. Peterson reportedly complained of stomach pain during and after a workout last month and a medical examination revealed that he had an inflamed appendix. Surgeons were able to successfully remove it and he has since progressed well and made a complete recovery. He's currently listed as the starting RB and he has taken a majority of the reps with the first-team offense. However rookie Matt Forte will likely see a lot of action as well and could end up passing Peterson on the depth chart prior to the start of the regular season.

Jonathan Stewart, CAR - Toe Surgery

Panthers' rookie RB Jonathan Stewart is progressed well in his recovery from toe surgery and according to reports he will be an active participant in practice during training camp. Stewart had surgery in March to repair damage to the ligaments in his big toe and he wore a protective-walking boot until the end of May. He did not participate in June OTA's but he did take part in light individual drills. Stewart was seen running a couple of weeks ago and according to reports he was not favoring his surgically repaired foot. The Panthers would like to work him back slowly so don't be surprised of he is limited during the first couple of weeks of training camp. But head coach John Fox has indicated that Stewart should be completely healed in time for Week 1 and that he will have a big role in the offense this season.

LaDainian Tomlinson, SD - Partially Torn MCL

Chargers' RB LaDainian Tomlinson has made a complete recovery from a partially torn medial collateral ligament in his left knee however the team is not going to take any chances with their biggest offensive weapon and they plan on keeping him sidelined during the preseason. Tomlinson spent the first few months of the off-season rehabbing his injured knee and he was unable to practice with the team in April. But he was able to participate in some team drills in May and he was full go during June OTA's. He's been working out and running at full speed for nearly three months now and it appears that his knee is now a non-issue. Head coach Norv Turner said that he was pleased with Tomlinson's recovery and confident that this starting running back is back to full strength, but he has decided not to use him during the preseason so that his body is fresh for the start of the regular season. Tomlinson hasn't played in a single preseason game in three of the last four years so don't consider this a red flag. He will be ready for the regular season and should be the top pick in all fantasy leagues this year.

Michael Turner, ATL - Shoulder Surgery

Falcons' RB Michael Tuner has made a full recovery from off-season shoulder surgery and he is reportedly ready for the start of training camp. Turner dislocated his shoulder during a game for the Chargers in December last year and he had the damage surgically repaired shortly after the end of the season. The extent of his injuries and the nature of the surgery have not been made public but Chargers officials called the surgery "minor." The Falcons signed him to a long-term contract about a month after the surgery and while he was unable to practice with the team in April he was back on the field in May and he participated in most of the drills during June OTA's. Turner spoke with the reporters last month and said that his shoulder was a non-issue and that he expected to be at full strength for the start of training camp on Saturday.

Derrick Ward, NYG - Fractured Fibula

Giants' RB Derrick Ward isn't completely healed from a fractured fibula however he's healthy enough to participate in training camp. Ward fractured his left fibula during a game in early December last year and he spent a large portion of the off-season undergoing rehab and treatment. According to reports Ward was limited in practice in May and he apparently took part in every drill during June OTA's. Ward told reporters last month that the fracture had completely healed however the Giants will keep him limited during the first couple of weeks of training camp as a precaution. Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw are currently 1-2 on the team's depth chart but if Jacobs were to get hurt a healthy Ward would get carries in his place so keep him on your fantasy radar this season.

LenDale White, TEN - Arthroscopic Knee Surgery

It appears that Titans' RB LenDale White has made a full recovery from off-season arthroscopic knee surgery, but according to reports his weight and conditioning are once again issues as the team begins training camp. White told reporters a couple a months ago that he tore the meniscus in his knee during the preseason last year and that he played the entire 2007 season with the injury. He eventually had the torn cartilage in his knee surgically repaired in January and he was limited in practices in May. White actively participated in June OTA's, but team officials were concerned about his conditioning and as we head into training camp it looks like he has a lot of work to do in order to be in shape for the start of the regular season. His knee shouldn't be an issue, but keep a close eye on the Titans' practice reports to see if he is having trouble keeping up or getting through the drills. Chris Henry and rookie Chris Johnson will definitely push White for playing time this year.

Cadillac Williams, TB - Torn Patellar Tendon

Bucs' RB Cadillac Williams, who underwent surgery to repair a torn patellar tendon in his right knee last November, is still not healthy enough to practice with the team and according to reports he will likely start the regular season the PUP list. There have been conflicting reports in regards to the recovery of Williams this off-season. According to several reports Williams has worked hard during the off-season and his recovery has well. But there are reports that his injury is actually career-threatening and at the very least he won't be on the field this season. Head coach Jon Gruden recently told the media that Williams has a done a great job in his recovery and that he has a chance of being ready to play football this season. He didn't say when he expected Williams to play and his comments do indicate that there is some uncertainty in regards to his immediate future with the team. It appears that he is headed for PUP list when the regular season begins, which means he won't see the field until after Week 6.

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