Many of my friends in the medical field hate the word "quiet." To even whisper the "Q" word will bring the wrath of friends and colleagues who don't want a good thing tested unnecessarily. But I've never cared. When it's quiet, it's quiet. I choose to celebrate the quiet.
And it's been quiet -- thankfully -- on the injury front through the first two weeks of the preseason. We've yet to see a devastating skill position injury. There have been refreshingly soft tissue injuries to worry over. The most concerning injury storylines are related to players already on their team's PUP list.
It won't stay that way. Football is a traumatic sport and there are injuries coming. Let's enjoy the quiet while we can.
Jamaal Charles | Right ACL repair | PUP | Week-to-Week
Dion Lewis | Left ACL repair | PUP | Week-to-Week
I am often pessimistic on NFL injuries. Players tell reporters they'll return sooner than even the most optimistic recovery timetables. Teams may not outright lie about player injuries, but they aren't exactly providing accurate information either.
But I tend not to worry about veteran players rehabbing on the PUP list. That is, until and unless we're given new, specific, and actionable information from a trustworthy source. The context behind Thomas Rawls' perceived longer than expected stay on Seattle's PUP list made sense. The context on Jordy Nelson's placement on the PUP list did not. (Why would the Packers clear him to participate in June minicamp workouts, then put him on PUP to start camp in late July?)
In recent seasons, players with isolated ACL injuries and favorable rehab reports usually return to practice within 8-9 months. Charles had his ACL repair nearly ten months ago, Lewis's surgery was nearly nine months ago. So, we're not far outside the range of expectation. Both the Chiefs and Patriots hinted throughout the offseason that they planned to limit the preseason (and, possibly, inseason) workload of their top running backs. Another clue that matches the reality of both players remaining on the PUP list as we enter the third week of the preseason.
Last Wednesday, Chiefs' general manager John Dorsey told reporters he expected Charles to be "ready to suit up in pads" in the "next couple of weeks." It's a vague comment, but it puts a hard range on Charles' timeline and it fits the offseason narrative. Giving Charles 2-3 weeks of preseason conditioning and practice time before the season begins should be sufficient. If he's not back to practice by the end of next week, it's time to worry.
Lewis' situation is a little different. He's rarely been seen around the practice field since camp began and Ben Volin caused a Twitter stir last week by writing a column saying Lewis may not come off PUP at all during the preseason. Volin's report was later panned by two other Patriots' beat reporters, but the waters are more choppy here than in Kansas City. The timeline for concern is the same for me here, however. If Lewis isn't activated to begin individual drills and on his way to be cleared for full contact drills by the end of next week, it'll be time to start worrying about Week 1.
Jordy Nelson | Left knee tendinitis | PUP | Week-to-Week
Nelson threw reporters a bone as camp opened when he revealed he was put on PUP due to tendinitis. While providing those limited nuggets -- he didn't say where the tendinitis was located or provide much guidance on a recovery timetable -- he told them he really didn't want to talk about his condition. When pressed last week in the locker room, Nelson would only say, "I'm good." Without the earlier context, Nelson's short answers could be read as frustration at slow progress or his clamming up about a condition that he knows will limit him into the regular season.