When Adrian Peterson shredded his knee on Christmas Eve in 2011, it was unknown how he would come back. Although a torn ACL isn’t quite the career-ender it used to be, an elite athlete like Peterson was in jeopardy of not regaining his legendary quickness.
Even though Peterson redefined how we view knee injuries, there was still the possibility that he was a one-in-a-million case.
Reports out of Washington indicate that Redskins’ phenom quarterback Robert Griffin III appears to be on pace to return to full form after his playoff injury against the Seahawks, which would be nearly as impressive as AP.
Griffin has yet to demonstrate his breathtaking speed on Sunday, but if he is on pace to be ready for week one, we are on the verge of establishing a new precedent for recovery from a torn ACL.
While there is the possibility that Griffin is in the freakishly athletic minority with Peterson, we may also be witnessing the effects of modern sports science.
Lions WR Ryan Broyles tore his ACL on December 2nd against the Colts and is already participating in team drills. Oh, and he tore his other ACL in November, 2011. Broyles is on pace to recover well and is the favorite to assume the receiver position opposite Calvin Johnson.
A torn ACL used to hinder athlete’s explosiveness after coming back, but it has gotten to the point of simply being an inconvenience. The benchmark for coming back from a bad knee injury was approximately one year, but that figure is in the distant past. Eight months is becoming a long time for athletes to wait, and with RGIII’s lightning-quick recovery that pace may be accelerated.
Athletes are expected to return as the same person they were prior to the injury, and with every new example, are expectations are elevated. A larger sample size will be necessary to draw firm conclusions, but from what we have seen recently, a late-season knee injury is nothing more than a bump in the road.
Knock on wood, RGIII. Knock on wood.