The Magic 8-Ball gave me conflicting information the last time I shook it up... so this time around, I'll let the DN decide the outcome as we take a look at whether or not Greg Childs will see the field this season.
Not to start off pessimistically (read: realistically??), but let's consider a couple huge things that aren't going in Childs' favor:
1) This isn't the first time Childs has had a knee injury. He injured his right patellar tendon in 2010 at Arkansas.
2) Returning from bilateral patellar tendon ruptures is, well, unprecedented. To my knowledge, only two players have suffered this type of dual-knee injury (Wendell Davis and Gary Baxter), and they never played another down in the NFL.
The simple odds certainly appear stacked against Childs. But, I'm more of a beer-glass-half-full-(well-i-actually-drank-it-all-but-bartender-refill-it-halfway-full-please) kind of guy, and there are plenty of things to be optimistic about:
a) Returning from bilateral patellar tendon ruptures is, well, unprecedented. Yes -- you read that copy-and-paste job correctly. Just because it hasn't been done before, doesn't mean it can't happen.
b) He has Eric Sugarman in his corner now. Consider what Sugarman did with EJ Henderson and Adrian Peterson (amongst others) -- they each had gruesome injuries, and returned to the field far sooner than anyone anticipated. (Furthermore, Childs' mind is in the right place, [insert obligatory comment about his Twitter feed here], and has been from the start when he hold Frazier he would work hard to be back. His type of positive attitude is presumably a huge contributing factor to successfully returning from a severe injury -- again, see: AD. Mind over matter and all that.)
c) His rehab is apparently coming along faster than his previous patellar tendon injury. I'm quite certain Sugarman is to credit for that, but perhaps the surgical procedure itself also had something to do with it. Team physician Dr. Joel Boyd, according to Childs, "did something a little different than I had done the first time, which basically tightens it up and strengthens my knee. So, I'm not really worried about this happening again." He's running and cutting, which is certainly further along than I think any of us would have thought he'd be a mere 9 months ago.
d) There's no pressure. Even if Childs returned tomorrow, he'd be behind Jennings, Simpson, Wright, and maybe even a rookie in Patterson on the depth chart. The team did a fine job shoring up the WR corps this offseason, so there's no rush in bringing Childs back to contribute right away.
Now, the simple facts:
i) Per Childs himself, he isn't close to 100%, and we won't see him suit up until he's at that stage. "There's no sense coming back 80, 90 percent", he said.
ii) There is no timetable for his return.
Which begs the question, what is a reasonable expectation for a return??
Better yet -- is there even an expectation at all??
When you break it down, there are essentially three options in play:
- Childs plays this season.
- Childs play next season.
- Childs doesn't ever play again.
Let's take those in reverse order. I don't want to suggest that Childs will never see the field again, but it's possible in the event he doesn't return to 100% (or, heaven forbid, he does and gets injured again). Childs has to do what's best for him long-term, which might end up being bowing out far too soon.
We could also put Childs on IR again, to allow him to get fully up to speed (again, with no pressure). This is a likely option, and it would presumably be foolish to use the designation-to-return tag on a player who hasn't played a meaningful down in his career. This might also be the prudent play, in the event Simpson struggles again and we cut ties with him after his second 1-yr deal, we can develop Childs behind Jennings, Wright and Patterson -- that's still a very decent WR corps.
But the interest is in whether or not Childs will play this season -- and if, in a few months, he's close to 100%, we have the option to start Childs out on the PUP list for the first 6 weeks of the regular season. He could always end up on IR anyway, but this would at least give the option to have him back around mid-to-late October, if he's ready to contribute.
It's still early in the process, and a lot can happen between now and August -- and while the dual-knee injury is a rarity, there is still some hope if history is any indicator for those who had a single patellar tendon rupture:
In 19 of the 24 injuries, the player returned to participate in at least 1 game in the NFL. Players who returned were drafted, on average, in the fourth round ... Of those players who returned to play, the average number of games played was 45.4, with a range of 1 to 142 games.
Patellar tendon ruptures can occur in otherwise healthy professional football players without antecedent symptoms or predisposing factors ... Although this is usually a season-ending injury when it occurs in isolation, acute surgical repair generally produces good functional results and allows for return to play the following season.
So, DN, time for some fortune telling -- what say you?? Give the Magic 8-Ball a shake...