And if Cruz's screams of pain after the wideout's devastating knee injury weren't enough to shield your ears, a highly-respected former doctor now says Cruz's days of salsa dancing in the end zone may be far and between in the future.
“He can return to 100%, but it (his knee) is a car in a car accident,” said Dr. David Chao, a former NFL team physician. “Never brand new when fixed.”
Cruz, who ruptured his right patellar tendon on Sunday, was transferred from Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia on Monday to the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan, where he underwent surgery performed by Dr. Russell Warren. The Giants said the procedure was “successful.”
Cruz’s injury, rare among NFL skill position players, is the kind that could rob him of what makes him truly dangerous: his explosive change-of-direction ability.
When he left the field on Sunday, he was unable to straighten his knee, the result of the tendon rupture that sent his kneecap traveling upwards and out of place. And while a handful of NFL players have returned from this injury, none have returned to their truly elite form.
“Studies show full return,” Chao said in general. “Of course there’s no way to measure explosive (ability) objectively.”
According to the N.Y. Daily News:
A patellar tendon rupture cannot be repaired arthroscopically, so it requires a massive open procedure, and such surgeries instantly have a lengthy and painful rehab.
For six weeks after the surgery, the joint must be immobilized, likely in a cast, so it can heal, and in that time, the surrounding muscles, unused for more than a month, will gradually degrade.
Those must be rebuilt, mechanics must be retrained, and it will likely be six months (into mid-April) before Cruz can attempt to run again, let alone make the cuts and jukes that left cornerbacks grasping at air.
In 2011, the American Journal of Sports Medicine released a study of 22 NFL players with patellar tendon ruptures between 1994 and 2004, and it found that it’s possible for players to return. But the study defined a “success” as any player who only appeared in a game post-surgery, and it couldn’t quantify whether players retained their once explosive skills.
“(It’s) harder and more painful early recovery than ACL,” said Chao, referring to the most common serious knee injury in the NFL.