Designated To Return: Irv Smith Jr.

It’s been quite a busy last week of preseason games in the NFL season. And unfortunately injuries are part of the preseason. The preseason has been no short of injuries. The latest coming in the form of Minnesota Vikings tight end Irv Smith Jr out of Alabama.

While a lot more information is needed to make informed decision. I don’t believe there is any video available showing Irv Smith sustaining the injury and any timeline is purely speculative since there is so much unknown about the injury.

Anatomy Review

The menisci are sandwich between the femur and the tibia. They are fibrocartilage structures that have numerous functions:

  • Improve dispersion of forces through the tibiofemoral joint – both menisci are shock absorbers
  • Deepen the joint to allow for improve stability of the knee joint
  • Reduce the friction between the articular cartilage of the tibia and the femur during movement

Both menisci are semicircular with the lateral meniscus being more circular while the medial meniscus is more crescent shape. The medial meniscus blends with the medial collateral ligament (MCL) which reduces the mobility of the medial meniscus. While the lateral meniscus does not blend with the lateral collateral ligament (LCL), it does allow for increased movement. It is often less injured compared to the medial meniscus. Both can be injured due to twisting motions of the knee, when the foot is planted in the ground.

There are several ways to classify meniscus injuries

  • Location of the tear: medial or lateral; outer or inner layer
  • Traumatic or Atraumatic
  • Stable or Unstable
  • Type of tear (see below)
    • Flap tear (bottom right)
    • Bucket handle tear (bottom middle)
    • Complex tear (bottom left)
    • Longitudinal tear (top right)
    • Radial tear (top middle)
    • Healthy (top left)

An MRI is needed to determine the type, size, and location of the meniscus tear and to determine if surgery is required. The outer third of both menisci is highly vascular and rich in blood supply and may or may not require surgery to heal. The inner two thirds lacks significant blood supply and certainly will require surgery and cleaning to allow for proper healing.

Designated To Return

It is difficult to make any sort of designation for a meniscus injury given the limited information right now. He could miss anywhere from four weeks up to the entire season. Until more information it’s difficult to state how much time he is going to miss. He will miss at least the next four weeks, which could mean only two games since the first game is not until September 12th, but could be out longer.

Difficult situation given the limited information currently. It is not known if which meniscus was injured, which area was injured (outer or inner layers), and the size of the tear and the type of procedures used (repair, removal, cleaning procedures). All of those details play a role into the amount of time Irv Smith Jr. is going to miss.

Other Notable Injuries: There were several other injuries that occurred over the weekend. Most notable to the Indianapolis Colts.

But the biggest and most impactful injury occurred to the Baltimore Ravens. They lost second year running back J.K. Dobbins to a left torn ACL.

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