McMullen: The Tricky Timing of Carson Wentz’s Injury
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - When Carson Wentz spoke to the media for the first time since tearing his ACL against the Los Angeles Rams, the superstar quarterback offered up some new information.
As reporters jockeyed for position around his locker in the NovaCare Complex back in late January, Wentz admitted he also damaged the LCL in his left knee, in recent football parlance at least, the same injury that turned Robert Griffin III from the Rookie of the Year with his GPS set for Canton into the guy speeding down the left lane straight out of football.
Wentz is a far more well-rounded player than RG3 ever was, however, so even if mobility is limited moving forward, it's doubtful Wentz's ascension as a player falls off a similar cliff.
It does, however, make things trickier for Howie Roseman, who has a difficult decision to make with Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles this offseason: sell high or play it safe with a player you already know can win at the highest level if he has a good team around him.
The timeline isn't quite Sophie's Choice but it almost assures the Eagles will be flying blind when it comes to Wentz.
When the 2018 season rolls around, the Eagles will likely have no idea where the second-team All-Pro QB really is because Wentz is not going to be doing much of anything in the offseason and it's doubtful he will be ready for training camp.
"If just the ACL is damaged, recovery for an elite athlete who can focus on recovering (rather than having to go to work and rehab in the evenings) can be as short as six months," Dr. Andreas Gomoll, a sports medicine surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York and an Associate Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at Cornell Medical School, explained to 973espn.com. "If other ligaments are damaged enough to require repair, such as the lateral collateral ligament (LCL), then recovery will be longer - closer to nine-12 months."
Gomoll is not Wentz's surgeon of course so he can only offer an opinion on the reported information and the typical recovery time of top-tier athletes.
Further reports of meniscus damage for Wentz does not raise any red flags for Gomoll, however.
"Meniscus injury, while increasing the risk of arthritis later in life, doesn’t add much to the recovery, since most meniscus tears in these elite athletes are cleaned up, rather than stitched back together," Gomoll said.
Wentz went down at the Los Angeles Coliseum on Dec. 10, so nine months from that day would be Sept. 10. As Super Bowl champions, the Eagles will be part of the NFL's Kickoff Game, scheduled four days before that date on Sept. 6.
Wentz has steadfastly claimed he will be back for that game and it remains a possibility but expect a different quarterback if that's the case, one that is not quite 100 percent from both a mental and physical standpoint and has some added equipment, a brace which could be around for a bit.
"For an isolated ACL I would recommend a brace for the first one to two seasons," Gomoll said. "If there was more extensive damage it might be advisable to use the brace longer."
From a financial standpoint, Roseman will have the ability to keep the QB room together with Wentz still on his rookie deal so this comes down to the uncertainty of the franchise signal caller from a physical standpoint vs. striking while the iron has never been hotter with Foles.
The Eagles have built up enough goodwill in the bank with the franchise's first Lombardi Trophy to choose either path and come out unscathed but if a dynasty is the goal you almost have to line up behind Wentz with your fingers crossed.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen