Adam Levitan

Injuries in Depth

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What to do about Jones-Drew

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

We've been inundated with questions about Maurice Jones-Drew's knee over the last few days, and with good reason. It's the peak of drafting season and MJD is (was?) considered one of the safest studs you could possibly find.

Then he missed three days of practice last week, which was followed by erroneous reports that he had knee surgery. What we now know is that Jones-Drew is going to sit out the rest of the preseason with a lateral meniscus injury in his knee.

We brought in Dr. Brian Eckenrode, a board-certified orthopedic clinical specialist and the sports team leader for GSPP Penn Therapy and Fitness at the Penn Sports Medicine Center in Philadelphia, for an emergency session on Jones-Drew.

Editor's Note: To see where the injured folks rank this season, check out the 2010 Rotoworld Draft Guide!

What is a lateral meniscus injury?
Lateral meniscus is one of the shock-absorbing structures that is inside the knee. It's a piece of cartilage. There are two of them, one on the inside and one on the outside. He reportedly has a tear on the outer one. That can mean many different things, depending on the severity of it.

Jones-Drew is not going to have surgery, will play through the injury and is fully expected to be out there for Week 1. Will he be affected?
A lot will depend on how bad the tear is and where the location is. It sounds like he has some fraying, some wear and tear in there, so he should be able to go ahead and continue playing. It's not going to affect his stability, it's not going to affect his strength. It's more a matter of how much pain he can deal with. And he may only have pain when he sort of squats past a certain point. Maybe in the offseason you'll see him get a scope.

Can he make it worse by playing on it?
The integrity of it is apparently not severe. But he can certainly aggravate it more, he can tear it more, cause more swelling. Swelling and pain is really what's going to limit the ability of his leg to function like he needs it to function.

If he ends up needing surgery, how long would he be out?
The timeframe ranges vary. In my experience, the best-case scenario is two weeks. An athlete may not be 100 percent at that point, but he could certainly play.

What does it tell you that he's not having the surgery right now?
If they're not doing the surgery, this tells me it's relatively minor. But again, the concern is yes, it can progress, yes he can have more pain and swelling and eventually miss some time.

How concerned would you be about drafting Jones-Drew?
I know he's probably around the top of a lot of people's lists. And if he's there and another guy is there, I'd probably lean toward the other guy. You're taking a little bit of a risk knowing that well, he's got this thing that could linger all season. He could even end up saying, 'Hey the bye week is coming up, let's just do this real quick and then get back out there.'

The Upenn rehab specialists interviewed in this story have not examined the athletes discussed. Their statements are general guidelines regarding their experience with injured athletes, and should not be taken as medical opinions.

For more information on Brian Eckenrode, PT, DPT, OCS and GSPP Penn Therapy and Fitness, visit

Editor's Note: For constantly updating rankings, projections, cheatsheets, tiers and more, get the 2010 Draft Guide!

Adam Levitan is in his sixth season covering football and basketball for Rotoworld. He won the Fantasy Sports Writers Association award for Best Series in 2011 and 2009, and ESPN's overall fantasy football title in 2000. Find him on Twitter.
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