Back in April many fans of the Seattle Seahawks were ecstatic when the team drafted DK Metcalf in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft, as he represented a large threat who could use both size and speed to find the end zone. The hype surrounding Metcalf built all offseason, with fans and the team alike feeding the flames, and by the time he finally made his preseason debut against the Denver Broncos, his performance seemed to almost fall flat.
That little bit of a letdown in his first preseason game for the Hawks may have even led to greater anticipation on the part of fans for his second preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings this past weekend. Unfortunately for both Metcalf and fans, he didn’t get to play against the Vikings, as he was held out for precautionary reasons due to the knee injury. In the words of John Schneider, the team didn’t dress some players in order to “protect” them.
In any case, we know he had surgery on Tuesday. First there was Walter Jones wishing him well on the day of the procedure.
Good vibes out to @dkm14 as he undergoes a procedure to address an issue. Hope you are back in no time, young man.— WALTER JONES (@BigWalt71) August 20, 2019
And then there was Ben Arthur of the Seattle Post Intelligencer posting a video on social media of Metcalf in rehab at the VMAC which apparently Metcalf had posted to his Instagram Story. In any case, here’s the tweet with the video of what is reportedly Metcalf’s leg.
Obviously, the team hasn’t disclosed exactly what the surgery was done to correct, so we don’t know the specifics. Thus, without attempting to decipher what was done, I reached out to retired orthopedic surgeon Dr. John Gilbert to see what he had to say about what information could be discerned simply from the picture. His response was as follows:
There’s only one bandage with evidence of bleeding; likely represents an antero-medial arthroscopy portal.
That’s a lot of medical terminology, so I asked him to translate it into easy to understand language, which he was happy to do. Apparently that means it is likely that he had some sort of arthroscopic procedure that entered the knee through the bottom front of the knee. Simple enough.
He went on to add:
TENS (Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) electrodes purportedly for pain control - cynics would say just as effective to place them on his head.
That is in reference to the pads on the leg in the video. Basically, he’s saying that cynics would argue that those pulsating pads may or may not be doing anything, which is the position of the National Health Society in the UK. That said, I have had TENS treatment and it absolutely helped with back spasms, but can’t provide any information about its use for postoperative pain relief.
In any case, getting back to Dr. Gilbert’s input on the picture, he offered the following:
Not enough portals for major knee reconstruction. Possible loose body or minor meniscal injury.
The first part we knew based on the updates that we’ve received from Pete Carroll and the description of the surgery as minimal, which it seems safe to assume is Carroll speak for minimally invasive at this time. In any case, digging into the second part of that, I inquired about the recovery time for either of those proposed procedures and whether being ready for the season opener on September 8 would be realistic. Those who appreciate a dry Midwestern sense of humor are likely to find his response amusing:
$eptember 8 play date marginal, depending on $peed of rehabilitation and motiva$ion.
So, while “there is optimism” Metcalf could be ready for Week 1, I’m going to ready myself for Metcalf to make his NFL regular season debut sometime after that. If he heals up and is ready to go by the time the Cincinnati Bengals come to town, I’ll simply consider it a nice little birthday present.
In any case, Dr. G wasn’t the only doctor who weighed in on the picture, as Dr. David J. Chao, under the handle @ProFootballDoc, gave his thoughts as well. For those unfamiliar with Dr. Chao, he has more than 17 years of experience as the head doctor for NFL teams, and he is currently a practicing orthopedic surgeon. Thus, he knows his stuff, and has particular insight when weighing in on NFL players.
Electrical muscle stimulation after knee scope. Lots of atrophy present. This doesn't look like the leg of the guy in the preCombine pictures completely ripped with 1.6% body fat. Seems optimistic to be ready and effective for week 1. https://t.co/QHPr1gZwsg— David J. Chao (@ProFootballDoc) August 21, 2019
His impression seems to back up that of our expert consultant in that Week 1 may be optimistic. However, it’s the earlier part of the tweet that most catches my attention with the, “Lots of atrophy present. This doesn’t look like the leg of the guy in the preCombine pictures completely ripped with 1.6% body fat.”
And that brings up an interesting question, specifically, how old is the injury and how long has Metcalf been dealing with it. If his leg muscles have atrophied, that would seem to likely be from skipping the gym on leg day, and based on his physique, I’d be surprised if he skipped any days at the gym. The logical explanation would thus be that he was instructed to skip leg day, and that makes me think that whatever it is has been an issue for some time.
In any case, we wish Metcalf the speediest of recoveries, and whether it’s in Week 1 or a couple weeks later, we’ll all be looking forward to seeing him on the field for the Hawks in 2019.