Part of my job as someone who writes about football is doing research. I know, you’re surprised.
That part of my job actually does happen often, despite my attempts to skip it entirely. When I do it upon reading about a player’s injury or potential injury, without fail something also happens: my respect-o-meter for what professional and collegiate football players do takes an abrupt 90 degree spike.
Oh and also, my stomach begins to feel funny.
This happened just now when I read that Eddie Lacy’s toe fusion surgery he had prior to his final year at Alabama wasn’t a true toe fusion surgery, and it therefore isn’t nearly as scary for his long-term heath. So I said to myself “self, what is a real toe fusion surgery?”. And then I immediately regretted the decision to look up the answer to that question:
Your toe will be straightened. This is done by removing the joint of the toe. This is either called fusion of the toe, or arthrodesis.
A cut is made over the top of your abnormal joint. The surfaces of the joint are then removed. The toe may be held in its correct position with a stout wire. This is known as a K-wire. This passes down from the end of the toe and across the joint to be fused. The skin is then closed up with stitches.
After your operation, you will not be able to bend the toe joint.
Yeah, neato huh?
Thankfully, Lacy — who was the Packers’ second-round pick two weeks ago (61st overall) — avoided the full death blow of that procedure which can limit long-term movement. Tyler Dunne from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel spoke to both Lacy and Alabama’s team doctor Lyle Cain Jr., who said the running back will be fine, and the window for complications (immediately after the surgery) is long gone.
Tell us more, good doctor:
“The joint underneath the toenail was fused to allow the ligament to work better basically,” Cain said. “It’s something you do to give you a better push-off. His big toe moves just like a normal big toe in terms of motion. . . . If you fused it completely, it’d give you a stiff big toe and you can’t push off and that’s a big problem. In Eddie’s case, he does not have that. His fusion does not affect his big-toe motion.”
Then he repeated the best part of that, because Lyle Cain is a very nice man…
“The bottom line is, the fusion he had does not affect his big-toe motion.”
This is, of course, glorious news for those in dynasty leagues who have already drafted Lacy, and the rest of us who will look to capitalize on Lacy’s status as the lead back in a Green Bay committee soon enough when re-draft season begins in August. Several teams — including the Broncos — reportedly passed on Lacy due to concerns about his toe which contributed to his draft tumble after he was pegged as a possible first-round pick.
Previously there was some thought that Lacy could be in a near even split with Jonathan Franklin, the Packers’ fourth-round pick in a draft where they loaded up at easily their weakest offensive position last year. And that could still happen, but due to a rule which prohibits rookies who haven’t written their final exams yet from participating in OTAs, Franklin will have to sit out this summer (UCLA’s exams end on June 14th).
He can still participate in the rookie camp and he can be on the field for the mandatory three-day minicamp in early June. But Franklin isn’t eligible for the main portion of OTAs. That gives Lacy an advantage, and thus he should be the first Packers running back off the board in fantasy drafts.
UPDATE: So hey, forget that bit about Franklin not being around for OTAs, because this just came down…
Johnathan Franklin said he learned today he will be able to participate in OTAs. He graduated last June.
— Mike Vandermause (@MikeVandermause) May 10, 2013
I’ll probably fail in an attempt to make a long story short here, but my attempt is as follows: if a player has graduated prior to May 13, he can participate in the main part of OTAs (a player who hasn’t can only participate in the rookie camp). Hey, that wasn’t so bad.
For whatever reason, it was thought that Franklin hadn’t graduated yet. But now that we know that’s not true, um, problem solved.