Home > Uncategorized > The Rippin’ And The Tearin’: Achilles Tendon Injuries Are Rampant In The NFL

The Rippin’ And The Tearin’: Achilles Tendon Injuries Are Rampant In The NFL

The current scourge of the NFL

I don’t have extensive data on this issue — I have just what Google Chrome and a couple of hours can give me — but it seems like an inordinate number of NFL players have seen their 2011 season already come to an end because of Achilles tendon tears, pops and ruptures.

By my unofficial count, nine 10 players. Detroit Lions running back Mikel Leshoure was the latest one to fall. He was a second-round pick in this year’s draft and was expected to be the team’s goal-line and short-yardage runner. But we won’t see him on an NFL field for about 12 months. Leshoure was said to be looking very sharp in camp, but with the nature of Achilles injuries, it’s doubtful that he’ll be just as good post-rupture as he was prior. It is career-threatening for some.

He joins a group of unhappy players who have suffered the same fate in the 13 days since the seal was broken on the first training camp.

Titans cornerback Ryan Mouton

Raiders wide receiver Derrick Jones

Giants cornerback Bruce Johnson

Eagles defensive tackle Victor Abiamiri

Browns punter Reggie Hodges

49ers cornerback Curtis Holcomb

Bengals linebacker Roddrick Muckelroy

Titans wide receiver O.J. Murdockd

(Update: According to Adam Schefter’s Twitter feed, I left out Saints linebacker Jeremiha Hunter. Although he did spell Hunter’s name wrong.)
(Second update: I noticed a few hours later that I had also spelled Hunter’s name wrong, leaving the second “e” out. That was karmic irony.) 

There was a curiosity about how the lockout and the lack of a structured offseason training and conditioning program would affect players. The most vengeance seems to have been directed toward the strongest tendon in the human body. By my count — again, unofficial — seven players suffered season-ending Achilles injuries through the entire 2010 preseason, from the start of training camp through the final exhibition games. However, one of those players was LenDale White, who can never be depended upon to be in game shape.

(Side note: During my research, I saw that former NFL player Kenyon Cotton actually died last year shortly after undergoing surgery to fix his Achilles tendon. Whoa.) 

Of course, Achilles tendons haven’t been the only tissues to be frequent guests on NFL injury reports. Three Dallas Cowboys — linebacker Keith Brooking and running backs Tashard Choice and DeMarco Murray — all pulled hamstrings within the first 48 hours of training camp last week.

And then there are the cases of players taking liberties with the extended time off, such as San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews. He was a 2010 first-round pick who saw his rookie season ruined by a sprained ankle. He knows the expectations for him, and he knows the Chargers view him as their No. 1 back. But Mathews didn’t really feel the need to do certain things though the spring and summer, like “conditioning my legs.”

Yes, because why would a running back ever need to concentrate on conditioning his legs? That’s not part of the job description!

The list of players experiencing soft-tissue injuries at an abnormally high rate will continue to all year, and it’s something that fans and fantasy players will need to be aware of. As for the Achilles injuries, don’t blame it on a bad training regimen; blame it on Thetis. If she had just thrown Achilles into the Styx rather than dipping him like a buffalo wing into ranch dressing, maybe we would all be blessed with stronger heels today.


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