With the NFL Draft starting later today, Myles Jack is a linebacker from UCLA that may slip to the Jets at #20 due to his season ending injury.
What is the injury?
During a practice in late September, Jack tore his lateral meniscus thus ending his season. The knee consists of the femur (thigh bone) and the tibia (shin bone); between those two bones are 2 menisci located on the medial (inside of the body) and lateral (outside of the body) sides of the knee. The meniscus primarily acts as a shock absorber to absorb the force after the foot lands from walking or running as well as a lubricant for the joint so it moves smoothly. Finally, the meniscus also contributes to the stability of the knee.
How does one tear the meniscus?
Meniscal tears typically occur when the knee is bent and twisted as a result from another player colliding into the knee. Knee flexion compresses part of the meniscus and with the combination of rotation, the meniscus is unable to tolerate the force needed to protect the knee. While the lateral meniscus is not uncommon to tear, the medial meniscus is certainly more common of an injury. Depending on the severity and location of the tear, the meniscus would be able to heal on its own and surgery would not be required; in this case, Myles underwent surgery shortly after getting injured.
How long is the recovery process?
Meniscal repairs typically take 4-6 months for full recovery and return to sport. Once removed from surgery, crutches and a knee brace will be given to the athlete and will be instructed to bear as much weight on the knee as tolerated. The crutches aid with the athlete getting around the brace will limit how much the knee can move to assure proper healing of the injured tissues. In about a 6 week span, the athlete's walking pattern will gradually return to normal as physical therapy will work on regaining the baseline range of motion and strength of the knee. Over the next 10 weeks (4 months removed from surgery), physical therapy will focus on strengthening muscles around the knee and ability to balance one leg. Developing single leg strength is vital because it is important that the knee an withstand the weight of your entire body while moving to perform various athletic tasks. Single leg strength is crucial because walking/running is a series of single leg bounds; the more single leg strength, the faster the athlete can run. The final 2 months of recovery is to regain speed and agility that is required for the sport as well as the cardiovascular endurance needed to endure through practices/games.
Jack got cleared to participate in his Pro Day in March however his performance has been underwhelming since March that his draft stock is falling. Early mock drafts had him going in the top 10 but Jack appears to be a drafted in the mid-first round in the latest mock drafts. Although he should be 100% at this point, there are concerns with his knee and it is unknown what lingering effects continue to exist from the injury.