What do Osi Umenyiora, Jay Alford and Domenik Hixon all have in common?
All three are in various states of recovery from (ACL, corrected) major knee injuries.
Umenyiora T+22 months
Alford T+10 months
Hixon T+ 3 weeks (and he was scheduled to have surgery right around this time)
Matt Bowen, a former Safety in the NFL, got hit with an ACL injury and describes the recovery process:
I had one of my own in the 2004 season. A torn right ACL against the Ravens in Week Five. Had the surgery, rehabbed and was back for 2005. But, I would be lying if I sat here and told you everything was great—because it wasn’t. The swelling, the daily maintenance, the pain and the lack of explosion I felt when the knee got tired. And, this was with the best rehab I could get from the Redskins training staff.
Unfortunately, it is natural. It wasn’t until my last season in Buffalo during training camp, the season after that I felt normal. Yes, the tightness was still there—as it is today—but I felt more like an athlete, instead of a player coming off of a major knee injury.
The Buffalo season was in 2006. That was his SECOND season of football after the injury.
We have been arguing here on the blog that you must be patient and give Umenyiora THIS COMING SEASON before you judge him. You cannot be too harsh on a guy who is in his first year back after the rehab. They almost always lose something. And what they get back, they don't get back until the second year.
We've noted before that the only athlete we ever saw make the return the following year and still play at an effective and high level was Amani Toomer in 2007. That is the exception. So as we head into 2010 training camp, we are looking for a meaningful uptick in Umenyiora and we expect very little consistency from Alford. In fact, whatever we see from Alford AT ALL will be positive, as it means there may be something there for 2011. If we see zero from him in 2010, that will probably mean he'll be fighting for a roster spot in 2011. If Tuck was right that Alford was set to make a difference in 2009, then we should see a few moments here and there from him this year. That is all we need, signs of life.