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Dr. Budoff’s Injury Update: DeVante Parker’s Precautionary Foot Surgery

 

Dr. Jeffrey E. Budoff is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon who wades through misleading coach-speak and vague team injury information to offer advice for your fantasy team.

DeVante Parker, Miami’s first round rookie wide receiver, underwent surgery today to replace a screw previously placed in the fifth metatarsal of his foot. This screw was previously placed in August of last year, probably for a Jones fracture.1 This fracture caused Parker to miss the first seven games of his 2014 college season. Early reports say that this screw exchange was done as a precaution after he felt soreness in his foot yesterday while while running routes during OTAs. In other words, the bone may not have fully re-broken, which would obviously be a bigger problem. I think that the pain means that the bone-screw construct is failing its “stress test”, and doctors are concerned about a re-fracture if they allow him to continue to play on it without surgical intervention. They’ll probably also inject a bone-healing catalyst into the fracture site.

A Jones fracture is a stress fracture, meaning that the bone fails under repetitive overload, as opposed to breaking from a single large injury. The assumption here is that the pain could well be a warning that his bone-screw construct is responding poorly to the stresses that he, as an NFL receiver, is placing on it. The problem with ignoring the pain is that, if this process continues, the bone could re-break. No bueno.

The fact that Parker was developing symptoms is concerning, although not alarming. His surgeon probably replaced his original screw with a larger diameter version to provide greater stability for the bone. In addition, the trauma of surgery incites an inflammatory process that can facilitate healing.

While we’re obviously not privy to the exact situation Parker’s experiencing, an NFL foot surgeon I discussed this with agrees that it’ll probably be about three months before Parker is up to full speed. Of course that means he’ll miss a good part of training camp, which isn’t great for a rookie wide receiver who’s new to this team and to professional football.

Miami’s first regular season game is in a little over three months, so Parker could be ready to play then. However, after missing so much preseason work, I’d imagine that his coaches will bring him along slowly. Especially, as they don’t want to risk any further setbacks to their number one pick.  So Parker may well start slow, and not receive a full load of snaps until later in the year.  I’d keep this in mind when considering drafting Parker in year-long leagues.  Lesser playing time for Parker should also increase the early-season targets, and consequent fantasy production, going to Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills and Greg Jennings, compared to what was previously projected.

  1. Coincidentally, the fracture that both Julio Jones and Marvin Jones had problems with as well.  (back)

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