PHILADELPHIA, PA – NOVEMBER 13: Jalen Mills #31 of the Philadelphia Eagles interferes with Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons in the fourth quarter at Lincoln Financial Field on November 13, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Eagles defeated the Falcons 24-15. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons all-time leading receiver Roddy White was never the same after he needlessly tried to play on a high-ankle sprain when it required at least a month of rest back in 2013.
The Falcons were coming off the NFC championship game and thought they were Super Bowl contenders. White, who played in 13 games, would be robbed of some of his speed and lateral movement as the team went 4-12 because the rebuilt offensive line was a bit leaky.
The hobbled White caught 63 passes, ending his streak of six seasons with at least 83 catches. He bounced back and caught 80 passes in 2014 and dipped to 43 when he was phased out of the offense or his skill diminished depending on whom you listen to.
So, there is no reason for the Falcons to let All-Pro wide receiver Julio Jones play with a turf toe injury. He’s perhaps the toughest player in the league has nothing to prove to the Brotherhood.
Playing Jones would be just asking for trouble.
NFL teams, the Falcons included, don’t allow their medical staffs or trainers to speak to the media and give credible injury reports. They let the coaches give these cryptic injury reports. (We’re still trying to figure out how Desmond Trufant’s torn pectoral muscle was listed as a shoulder injury. Just seems bizarre.)
So, the media is left to get our own medical experts and we get some of the best doctors across the country, but they don’t have the direct knowledge of Jones’ specific injury and his ability to heal.
Ken Jung, a foot and ankle surgeon at Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles, discussed the nature of turf toe injuries with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Here’s what he had to say:
On the medical nature of a turf toe injury:
“There are two sesamoid bones underneath the first metatarsal. Just underneath the ball of your big toe. But that’s hard. The bones are like your knee cap. They are actually bones within tendons along the bottom of the big toe. They make up the complex that we call the plantar plate. There are the sesamoid bones with the tendons. There are three tendons down there. Seasmoid bones are in two of them and then three ligament structures that we call a joint capsule. Those all make up the plantar plate. They provide stability to the big toe. So when a turf toe injury occurs, the big toe gets hyper extended and lifts up and ends up tearing the tissues on the bottom. The degree of injury depends on how much of the tissue is injured or torn.”
Matt Ryan, after he missed two games with turf toe, played with a steel plate in is shoe. Is that common:
“Since the injury is caused by the toe getting bent up. What we’ll try to do is treat it or protect the joint is restrict the toe from bending upward. You can put a steel plate in the shoe. It’s very thin plate steel or carbon fiber and that just stiffens up the front of the shoe underneath the big toe. You can tape as well to restrict the toe from bending upward.”
How hard is it to run, plant and jump with turf toe:
“Running and pushing off for anyone that plays an explosive position like Julio Jones or any receiver, defensive back or even a linebacker for that matter, where you have to push off, stop and go, cut; you’ll definitely feel it more.”
Should a player rest with the turf toe injury:
“It depends on the degree and how comfortable he is when they do stabilize it. Using a steel plate or even a tape job. If you’re able to keep him comfortable on it and he’s able to push-off, that will determined when he’s able to go on it. In a severe situation it could lead to something surgical if it’s grossly unstable.”
Jack Lambert had to retire in 1984 with a turf toe injury. Can turf toe be career- threatening even given the medical advances since then:
“Back then we didn’t know as much. The joint, basically gets unstable, they get a lot of pain and then they end up getting arthritic in the joint. Any football player who has to push-off and do explosive activities, they can lose that push off and their on field performance would obviously be affected….they lose that explosiveness and ability to push off. ”
Yeah, after reading all of that, Jones should sit on Sunday and probably next Sunday, too.
The AJC’s D. Orlando Ledbetter and Noah Coslov talk about the spot the Falcons are in facing the Rams in week 14 and how Julio Jones’ turf toe will impact things in Los Angeles.