Injuries never sleep, so here are updates on two big injury situations.
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh (torn meniscus)
Surgery was performed Monday morning by Dr. James Bradley, a team physician for the Steelers, and what he found inside the knee was slightly more complicated than what was expected. Every surgery can go this way. What they see is often different from what they think they see. Usually, there’s a plan and an expectation set. The surgeon will speak to the patient before surgery and say, “If we see this, do you want us to fix it, or stop?”
Most say fix it.
According to Chris Mortenson of ESPN, that’s exactly what happened when Dr. Bradley got inside the knee. Roethlisberger is quoted as saying there was some damage inside “after his bone bruise.” That would indicate some issue with the articular cartilage as well as the meniscus. If the bone had to be shaved down and smoothed, that creates more inflammation inside the knee and requires some healing time. There’s no information that the expected meniscal trim was changed or was more than minimal.
The four- to six-week timeframe now attached to Roethlisberger is reasonable, but perhaps a bit less optimistic. Roethlisberger has always healed on the lower end and been able to play through pain, so unless there was a much more extensive repair to the articular surface than has been let on, I think Roethlisberger will return on the low end.
While we can rule Roethlisberger out for this week — always a long shot — I don’t think we can yet rule out a three week return, which would be Week 9, just after the bye. As before, the first key will be when we see Roethlisberger back out on the practice field in some manner. He should be weight bearing by the end of the week, so something like him standing on the sidelines without crutches during this week’s game could be considered a significant positive.
Eddie Lacy, Green Bay (sprained ankle)
The trade for Knile Davis should have been a sign, but reports that came out Tuesday evening about Lacy’s foot and ankle were significantly more negative than expected. With James Starks out for a month, an injury to Lacy is a real game changer at a position the Packers lack depth.
Lacy went to see Dr. Robert Anderson in Charlotte, N.C., one of the top foot and ankle doctors in sports medicine. Lacy does have a significant history, including surgery to help a severe case of turf toe in 2011, while at Alabama. Lacy also had a mild ankle sprain midway through the 2015 season, but it did not appear to be anything more than this.
Lacy’s history with foot and ankle injuries have led to some adjustments, including his spin move. It puts less stress on the area than making hard cuts or jump stops. The worry is there is structural damage inside the ankle, such as an avulsion, that will lead to an extended absence.
There’s been no word on what Lacy heard at his visit to Dr. Anderson, but the Packers insist that any speculation about an extended absence is just that. I remain concerned, given the rumors, and will continue to follow the story.