Hamstring Grade 1
December 14th, 2018
The 6-5, 342 lb Seahawk Right Guard has provided much needed stability to the Seahawks offensive line. After entering into the lineup in week 3 at Right Guard DJ has help post a league best in rushing statistics for the Hawks. After the rebuilding by offseason coaching acquisition Mike Solari, the Seattle rushing attack has increased from a 23rdin the NFL ranking in 2017 to number one in the league through 13 games.
Much can be made of philosophy changes, play calling, and finally a healthy stable of running backs, but a large piece to Solari’s puzzle is likely the addition of the 342lb Right Guard. DJ was the 11thpick overall in the 2013 draft out of Alabama by the then San Diego Chargers. He is a 5 year NFL veteran after several stops, most recently with the NY Giants. He played RT in college and did so most of his NFL career prior to Solari moving him to RG. This is a reunion of sorts for Solari and Fluker who had worked together in New York previously.
What to do while Fluker recovers from his hamstring injury? Instead of going back to Ethan Pocic, they plucked Jordan Simmons USC alumni off the practice squad and installed him at right guard. In regards to plugging and playing OL personnel, "It's the whole unit working together as one," Solari said. "They're just getting better. It's exciting how they are coming along and come together functioning as one." Solari, who replaced Tom Cable as offensive line coach following the 2017 season, has deservedly received a lot of credit for the improvement of the offensive line, but he is quick to point to his players as the cause of success for that group.“It’s a group that has worked so hard on and off the field,” Solari said. “They do a great job in the classroom, they do a great job being accountable to each other, and they take pride in their work. It doesn’t matter who’s in there, they're working as one, and that’s a credit to them.”
Seattle is currently the No. 1 running team in the NFL. The Hawks have the most carries in the league and are the only team to reach the 2,000-yard mark through 13 games. They've also improved greatly in protecting Wilson. Coach Brian Shottenhimer has improved play calling since the departure of Darrel Bevell and tailored play design to his personnel. Since the start of Week 3, Seattle has allowed just 27 sacks, tied for 13th best in the NFL. During the same stretch Wilson has the second-highest passer rating of any quarterback in the league at 110.
How Does the Hamstring Effect an Offensive Guard?
Think explosion! As you read this you can reach behind the back of your right leg and feel both the inside and outside hamstrings. They work with the Quadriceps on the front of the thigh to brace the knee joint and also absorb force. They are considered antagonists as they perform opposite movements, but together create stability and a smooth concert of movement. DJ was reported to have a grade 1 strain, which is the least serious on the 5 point grading system. Typically this will sideline a skill position player for up to 4 weeks but for an interior offensive lineman this will typically be 2-3 week hiatus. In the interest of full healing, the ability of Fluker’s back-ups to fill in so well and the depth that John Schneider has created for the Offensive line allows for players to get as near complete recovery as you can get in the violent marathon, which is the NFL season. Look for his return likely in week 15 for the play-off run. In the meantime he is likely getting physical therapy 2x day and working on concentric strengthening with isometrics. Typically stretching the tissue or any eccentric strengthening will not begin aggressively for 3-4 weeks. So in DJ’s case, likely in the offseason. In the NFL season weeks 10+ is simply triage and survival until after the season ends.
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October 2nd, 2018
Will Dissly was quickly emerging as a new fan favorite and an obvious hot route target of Wilson. He combines a good set of hands with good blocking technique, making him a very valuable asset to the offense. Unfortunately, we have another player going down with a devastating injury. On a seemingly innocent short yardage catch, Dissly tore his patellar tendon as he made the reception and was tackled out of bounds. This is the same as injury that former tight end Jimmy Graham had just a couple of years ago. As we all know too well, it was a long road back for Graham before he was back to form. Some would argue Graham was not the same afterwards and Dissly is quite different physically. Hawks fans were pleasantly surprised with his impact play making ability that were not honestly expected from him. The Hawks have different expectations for the role that Dissly will play for Seattle which have yet to be fully seen.
A quick recap of the patellar tendon anatomy to help us better understand the severity of the injury. The patellar tendon helps transmit force between the quadriceps muscle and the tibia. It most commonly tears below the knee cap closer to its insertion onto the top of the tibia.The force generated by the landing on his leg was greater than what the tendon could handle which is what resulted in the tear. The structural integrity of the muscle's soft tissue will no longer be the same. The scar tissue that the body lays down is more fibrous in nature and does not have the same pliability and force transmitting ability which will impact his knee flexibility. This will also make it difficult for him to generate equal force between his legs to create a chip block or to leap high and far to make catches. Unfortunately, Dissly will need every bit of this year off to see the field for the start of next season.
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October 1st, 2018
An ironic end to the Legion of Boom as the last remaining piece of the secondary in that of Earl Thomas III has more than likely played his last snap for the only team he has every played for. The turmoil during the off season was beyond obvious that ultimately ended with Thomas reluctantly suiting up for Week 1 after his preseason holdout. The air seemed to be cleared and Thomas and the Hawks were moving forward with the season and he made an immediate impact on the start of the season with several interceptions and big plays to his name that landed him yet again among the elite secondary starters in the game this year.
Thomas went down on a touchdown pass on Sunday afternoon in Glendale where the air must have something in it after taking yet another LOB member. Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor both had serious injuries when facing the Cardinals but a couple of years ago. Thomas was trailing the receiver after he made the catch and clipped his left leg on the receiver's backside and tumbled to the ground. He knew immediately the severity of the injury and was quickly surrounded by kneeling teammates as trainers rushed to fit him with an air cast before being carted off. Fortunately, initial reports cite a clean break of his leg with no ligament or significant soft tissue damage which bodes for a recovery mostly contingent on the bone healing again. If the alignment in his legs hold true, he can avoid surgery. The bone itself will take somewhere in the ighborhood of about 6-8 weeks to heel before he can put weight on it again. Then he will transition to significant therapy to try and get him healthy for a possible late playoff run.
NFL ranks Thomas as the 3rd best safety in the league followed by a growing name within the Hawks organization - Bradley McDougald, coming in at 4th best. Tedric Thompson, who played most of the preseason snaps in Earl's position, will have to step up to the plate and help put a stop to the red-hot Rams offense next week.
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MEdial Collateral Ligament (MCL)
September 15th, 2018
Doug Baldwin sprained his right knee during the season opener in Denver earlier this week. Doug is also nursing a left knee injury that kept him out of the preseason which has been acknowledged as not being back to 100% prior to the first game against Denver. Pete has also mentioned today that it could be a couple of weeks until Doug is back in action. Obviously, we are early in the season and it is in the team’s best interest to make sure that he is fully ready to go and cleared by team doctors before he reenters competition. The fact of the matter is that Doug is a huge part of the Hawks offense, as in one third of Wilson’s touchdown throws in the last three years. Baldwin’s injury leaves a thin string of receivers left to fill his role. Lockett and Marshall will see a bump in touches obviously and Brown might play a bigger role. Who knows, we might even see some of Moore. Although Dissly showed some nice hands and playmaking ability, he will need to help Ifedi double up blocking Khalil Mack who is essentially Von Miller 2.0.
Fortunately, if you had to injure one ligament in the knee, the MCL is the one to tear because it has the best available blood supply out of all of the major ligaments in the knee including the ACL, PCL and LCL. This also means that MCL tears are generally treated non-surgically and instead do well with physical therapy and rehab. An MCL tear is caused by a valgus force (i.e. lateral to medial, or outside to inside force) to the knee. In Baldwin’s case, he had a player roll up onto his leg which caused his knee to buckle in this way. The grades of ligament sprains are categorized into three grades depending on the severity of the injury and this one falls in the middle at a Grade II where the MCL was not full torn, but is more severe than a mild sprain. Baldwin will be out at least two weeks and will take up to at least four weeks before he is back to “normal”.
On the Field
Things you can look for on the practice field and games in the coming weeks. A tear or sprain in the MCL will make cutting a little more uncomfortable, little less exact, and reduce explosiveness. This could come into play most notable in quick crossing routes and short slide and dig routes. The ability to start stop becomes a little less and watch for comeback routes to be a little slower with the timing with Russ to be a little compromised. Typically this will make the quarterback hold the ball a split second longer or he will deliver the ball on normal timing with the compromised WR not quite our of their break.
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