On chilly Sunday afternoon in Pittsburgh, running back Leonard Fournette was instrumental in Jacksonville’s 45-42 victory of Pittsburgh. He finished with 108 yards rushing, two catches for ten yards, three rushing touchdowns. It was an impressive stat line for sure. One that may not have happened had he not returned to the field (although he already had 80 yards and two touchdowns). He left with a right ankle injury trying to spin out of a tackle in the second quarter.
Although he came back to the game and scored another touchdown and gained another 20 yards, you could see Fournette’s ankle injury did limit his ability to be effective. He didn’t have the same first step, explosiveness, and quickness.
— Mike Petraglia (@Trags) January 14, 2018
The ligaments of the ankle, once they get stretched out they don’t return back to their original length. That’s why it’s easier to sprain an ankle after you do it once. Leonard Fournette does have a history of chronic ankle issues.
The lateral ankle ligaments are numerous yet small, so it’s easy to sprain them because of how small they are relative to the medial ankle ligament. Second, with there not being a lot of muscle around the ankle it is also another reason why it is easy the ankle to be sprained. Third, he’s a big dude moving at a very fast rate, high speed movements with his size on a small joint there is a chance he can get hurt.
What I Could Do?
A lot of manual work. We’ll be working out the muscles of the lower leg, working out muscles of the foot, and working out the ligaments of the ankle. The manual work will help with the pain and swelling. While swelling is a good thing and a sign of healing, we also don’t want the swelling to get to the point it affects other parts of the rehabilitation process.
Because the next part of treatment is maintaining ankle range of motion. He needs his ankle range of motion to push-off and run. Maintaining ankle range of motion is also something I can help him with.
The final part of treatment will be to strengthen the ankle. There are a variety of exercises ATCs, DCs, and PTs have used to strengthen the muscles of the ankle. Since the ligaments do not return to original length after being stretched, it’s imperative for the muscles to be stronger to help maintain the integrity of the ankle joint. Strengthening the ankle in a week will be a challenge, but it will be vital in terms of him being able to play Sunday. Off-season ankle work will be discussed at a later time.
We’re always testing his ability to bear weight with the weight shift test:
Weighted Ankle Range of Motion:
The rehabilitation team of the Jacksonville Jaguars will have his ankle on e-stim, ultrasound, ice, heat, and manual to help him get as good as he can be for a Sunday match-up. They’ll put him in a walking boot for when he’s not at the facility and at practice to protect him.
Like many players right now in the midst of a playoff run, their ability to manage pain will be a deciding factor. Like I thought with LeSean McCoy’s injury, I think Leonard Fournette will play and will be a heavy part of the offense. Do I think he’ll be “slowed” down, yes absolutely. He most likely received treatment upon returning to Jacksonville and will continue to receive treatment up until Sunday morning. He’ll be limited in practice all week. I think the weather will also play a role in how the ankle holds up, because if it is colder, it will require him to warm-up more effectively to make sure the ankle is feeling as good as it can be but also the conditions of the field will play a role as well.
But I think he can have an effective day. His ability to push-off and cut will be tested all week. Be prepared to potentially see more run plays to the left so that if he does have to cut back to the right, he cuts off his left leg instead of the right, thus minimizing the use of the right ankle for some plays.