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May 02, 2017

A doctor's opinion of Sidney Jones' likelihood of playing in 2017 and returning to 100 percent

When the Philadelphia Eagles selected cornerback Sidney Jones in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft, they took a player who tore his Achilles' tendon in March and has a lengthy recovery ahead.

The two questions of note to Eagles fans are, (A) will Jones be able to play this season, and (B) when he does recover, will he be the same player he was before the injury?

In his press conference after drafting Jones, Howie Roseman was asked both questions, and we followed up with Dr. Larry Miller, who is the chairman and chief of orthopedic surgery at Cooper University Hospital, and the head of the division of sports medicine.

When asked if Jones might play this season, Roseman did not seem to be in any rush to get him back on the field.

"I think that's to be determined," he said. "Obviously, he got a report from [orthopedic surgeon Dr. Robert Anderson] that we saw that showed how well [his Achilles is] healing and it was an optimistic report, but we're going to take it slow. We're just going to make sure we get 100 percent of Sidney going forward because this is an extremely talented guy at an important, hard-to-find position."

Dr. Miller indicated that anything less than six months is unrealistic.

"Most of these injuries occur in people in their late 30’s to mid-40’s, so it’s typically a male that’s still playing basketball, and they tear it on the basketball court," he explained. "That’s the classic history. It’s rare that somebody his age tears it, but these guys are high-performance athletes. I just fixed one in a college athlete who tore his as well. When they do tear in young people, they tend to tear a little bit more significantly because it takes a lot to tear a young tendon.

"Apparently the surgery went great. It’s kind of interesting. There were notes online about it, which is kind of unusual. The rehab that they’re doing is an aggressive early range of motion rehab, which not everyone does, but this certainly is accepted and makes sense to give him the best chance. The reality of it is it takes a minimum of six months to be able to get back. I think they were talking four-to-six months, but I think six months is the minimum.

"The rehab that they’re doing is very progressive and innovative. You couldn’t do that with a normal person. You couldn’t do that with the 45-year-old accountant that has to take the Paoli local into work. You have to wrap them up in a cast and give them a set of crutches to stomp around on. So the beauty is you have a really healthy person who is able to protect the repair, while at the same time allowing it to heal. As long as he does what he needs to do, and not abuse it, they’ve done everything you can possibly do to help him maximize his care and get over it."

Roseman strongly believes that Jones will be the same player he was before the injury.

"Our doctors and training staff not only looked at corners and players in the National Football League, but we reached out to teams in other sports," he said. "We looked at guys who are playing explosive positions and quick-twitch positions, who have had these sort of injuries and their recovery timetable. And that gave us a lot of confidence here. Obviously, there's no insurance for this, but we feel really confident that with our medical team, that when he gets here, he's going to be able to be the same player he was before the injury.

"Because of his age, it's a very, very high percentage of coming back to 100 percent. It's an extremely high percentage. And that's why we made the pick. For us, it had to be a very, very good chance that he would be exactly what he was before the injury, and again, there's no insurance that that will happen, but we feel very confident based on all the studies we've done, all the research we've done and the MRIs that have come back to us that that's going to happen with him."

Dr. Miller agreed that there's a chance Jones will get back to 100 percent, but seemed less confident about it than Roseman.

"The question would be, will he be 100 percent, and I guess the answer to that is, he could be," Dr. Miller explained. "He’s got all the time in the world to rehab and focus on it, and get his leg strong, and like Roseman said, he is young. With a 45-year old, they never get back absolutely perfect. They always have a little bit of atrophy, but they do really well. The best chance to get back to sports is to operate on it, and that’s the treatment that he got, so it gives him the best opportunity. There’s a good chance that he’ll do very well. Whether that will be as good as if he never hurt it is another question."

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