Despite wordplay, Eagles not playing games with Vick's head
Eagles trainer says Michael Vick has not shown concussion symptoms in practice
First-down marker seems to have played a role in Jamaal Charles' leg injury
NFL is on pace to see a reduction in concussion cases of six percent this year
There are two reasons I do an intro to my columns. First, my editors tell me to do it. Second, there are often interesting things that don't get associated with one player or team. This week, I could do a lot of that, but there simply are too many injuries to discuss. Injury stats aren't up significantly, though the perception is that they're up, especially with all the high profile ones. Don't get too wrapped up in it, especially with traumatic injuries like ACL sprains that are inherently random. Let's focus on what we can do something about and get right to it:
Vick's injury offers a lot of insight into how the NFL is dealing with the concussion policy. Initially, Vick was said to have a neck injury. He was shown walking off the field, spitting blood from his bitten tongue (he doesn't wear a mouthpiece), and pointing at people in the Atlanta stands. There was no evidence that his neck was anything more than sore at that stage and several observers say they didn't see any evaluation of his neck on the field. Given the restrictions on movement and manual testing caused by shoulder pads, the fact that Vick had them on as he walked off the field tells us that the alleged neck injury was likely not serious, but Eagles trainer Rick Burkholder has been consistent, saying as late as Wednesday that Vick has no concussion symptoms but still has some soreness in his neck. It could be argued that there is a competitive advantage to not saying anything about injuries in-game, but it's a poor message. After the game, though, Andy Reid quickly confirmed the concussion, which has required Vick to do all the testing and other requirements the NFL has in place for such a diagnosis.
This is a problem of perception, not treatment. There is no single test that will reveal a concussion, so the Eagles have to treat Vick based on the symptoms. The problem is how Vick's injury was presented, not how they handled it. Despite the mixed verbal signals coming from the Eagles camp, they appear to have treated him symptoms appropriately. It would help if Vick (and all other football players) wore a mouthpiece, but it's a personal choice, one that he's now experienced the downside of.
If Vick is unable to go against the Giants, it's unclear whether Vince Young will be physically ready as he continues to rehab a hamstring strain or whether he would be Reid's choice after nice play from Mike Kafka against the Falcons. Vick has not yet been cleared to play, though it is expected he will be. The Eagles will take this right up to game time if necessary, but all signs are that Vick will play normally in Week 3.
The important thing about the alleged stem cell procedure Manning had in Europe isn't the stem cells, the location, or even who had it. The key fact is that it didn't work. This was a "Hail Mary" pass done after his May surgery, once it became clear he wasn't healing as quickly and completely as had been hoped. Manning looked into everything, we assume, in a desperate attempt to avoid surgery and save his 2011 season.
Stem cell injections have been used by Kobe Bryant for his knees and Bartolo Colon for his elbow (and detailed in this SI article), so they're not new or controversial. Similar procedures can be done in the U.S., but due to governmental restrictions, Europe is often ahead of the U.S. equivalent in experience.
The timing of Manning's procedure is interesting, placing it somewhere in late July or early August and in close proximity to the end of the lockout. This procedure, we assume, wasn't hidden by Manning once the lockout ended. That means that he was signed to his extension anyway and that the Colts knew this was a likely outcome much earlier than previously believed. Manning is now two weeks post-fusion and is at a stage where his rehab is going to have to progress to throwing very soon if he's going to meet the original 8-to-12 week time frame. The Colts should know sooner than that if the nerve problems in his shoulder/arm were relieved by the surgery and if Manning will be able to return at all. For now, he's just "walking it off."
I'm surprised there's less outcry about how Charles actually tore his ACL. The video is clear. Charles made an awkward extended step and landed on the plastic first down marker laid on the field. It slid, forcing his knee into hyperextension and then caught, snapping the ligament in the process. Charles was already reaching for the knee as he was falling and well before he bumped into the Lions' mascot. There were a lot of tweets, many joking but taken seriously, that the mascot was what caused the injury. I'm curious why those plastic markers are necessary. I asked two NFL running backs if they looked for them and neither said he'd ever been able to spot them consistently. "I look for the sticks," one said. The other said he focused on looking before the play. "I'll look before the play and say to myself 'OK, 35 is the first.' I'll be honest though, once I start running, I'm never really sure where I'm at." The markers seem to be unnecessary and should be removed. Charles is headed for surgery once the swelling in his knee is down and he'll be a good value in drafts next season.
One of the worst things for any medical staff is a recurrence. One of the hardest things for a medical staff to do is understand how a player feels. Those two things came together with Foster, who pushed to get back for Week 2 and seems to have pushed too hard. In his first few runs, it's easy to see why they let him go. He ran well and showed some burst, but the hamstring didn't hold and tightened back up. It's not considered a complete recurrence of the strain, but it's clear that it's not completely healed either.
One of the reasons Foster was pushing so hard is that he saw how well Ben Tate played in his absence. The disagreement between Foster and Gary Kubiak about who pulled Foster from the game is laughable and irrelevant for getting any handle on how long Foster will be out. Again, it appears Foster is trying to rush back this week, while the Texans seem more comfortable giving him at least another week off.
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