Designated To Return: Brandon Graham and Jeffrey Okudah

The start of the 2021 NFL season has not been kind to many franchises in the early part of the season. What seems like once a game, a player is being carted off or carried off for a season-ending soft tissue injury. In back-to-back weeks that occurred for the Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham and Detroit Lions cornerback Jeffrey Okudah. They both went down with a ruptured Achilles’ tendon that will cost them their entire season.

We’ll start with Philadelphia Eagles defensive end, Brandon Graham. He was injured in the week 2 match-up against the San Francisco 49ers. I did have to rewind it a few times just to confirm what my suspicions were and then anytime you see the cart come out to help a player to locker room with what occurred on the field, it felt like a safe assumption that his season was over.

Courtesy of NFL; FoxSports; Derek Hansen

As for Detroit Lions cornerback Jeffrey Okudah, according to those at the Detroit-San Francisco game, Okudah was injured in the 4th quarter away from the play. He then had to be carried off the field with ten minutes left to go into the game.

Photo Credit: Yahoo Sports and Associated Press

Anatomy Review.

What’s the Achilles’ Tendon? It connects the muscles on the back of your lower leg to the heel bone. In more anatomical speak: it connects the Gastrocnemius and Soleus to the Calcaneus bone. It is one of the strongest tendons in the human body.

The function of the gastrocnemius and soleus muscle are to plantar flex your ankle and through an eccentric contraction control the tibia moving over the talus when walking. The Achilles’ tendon also functions to transmit energy from walking, jumping, cutting, hopping to the foot and from the foot.

When the Achille’s tendon ruptures, it is often a loud snap or the feeling of your heel getting kicked and then you look around and realize it most likely was your Achilles’ tendon that just gave way. They are often torn when we push off from the ground to run, jump, cut and sometimes can occur when we are landing on the leg on the ground.

Designated To Return.

It’s expected that both will make a full recovery and be ready for the 2022 NFL Season. The time frame for an Achilles’ tendon rupture is generally between 6-9 months, but given the fact they are returning to football with explosive cuts, starting and stopping, it may take longer. There have been circumstances where individuals have taken surgical and non-surgical approaches to Achilles’ tendon rupture rehabilitation. I anticipate both will take the surgical option to repair the Achilles’ tendon and then begin physical therapy rehabilitation.

Athletes such as Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson have been sidelined for an entire year when returning to basketball. While the demands of basketball and football are different and in football, position-influenced, the general movements and explosive demands are similar. So it wouldn’t be a surprise for them to gradually worked in during training camp and being a limit as the season starts and not be as back as soon as you would expect.

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