Philadelphia Eagles News

Head Athletic Trainer Rick Burkholder On RB Westbrook

Opening Remarks: "Let's start with [RB] LeSean [McCoy]. He fell out there in practice – caught a ball and then fell and he has a thumb sprain. It will be treated conservatively. X-rays were negative and we anticipate that if everything goes well this weekend, he's got a chance to practice next week. But it's just a thumb sprain. I know that was a little bit of a scare when he went down. As far as [RB] Brian [Westbrook] is concerned, you guys are aware of the fact that he was operated on today by Dr. Mark Myerson in Baltimore. Dr. Myerson says that the surgery was a success. He basically did a couple of things. He went in and, first of all, it was not a scope as it was reported because you can't scope that portion of his ankle. But he did make an incision, cleaned out scar tissue, and then removed two bone fragments.

"Both of these fragments were in the back of the ankle and on the inside of the ankle – one of those fragments came from the ankle sprain that he had last year during the season, and the other one, we're not sure whether it came from the ankle sprain or if it's been there and didn't bother him. There was some inflammation in the tendon that moves his big toe and that's because that tendon was laying up against the loose bone fragment in the back, and so, Dr. Myerson took the fragment out and then cleaned some of the scar tissue and inflammation out of that tendon.

"Brian is doing well. He texted us and said he's doing well. Recovery-wise with him, he's going to be basically non-weight bearing for two weeks and he'll go back and see the doctor and then we'll take it week by week from there. I know the question is 'when will he be back?' We don't know that because we never put a time frame on. I think [head] Coach [Andy Reid] and I and everybody here, we feel pretty comfortable that he will be back by the beginning of the season. Whether he will be back by the beginning of training camp or not, it's too early to tell. It's something that the question came up 'why did we wait so long?' The fact that Brian came off the knee injury, was rehabbing well – he's in some of the best shape he's been in for June in his career. His weight is down. He looks great. And he was really upping his conditioning for this season and he started to get irritated with the ankle so we had it examined and realized that we needed those bone fragments taken out of there, and I think it's going to be successful. I think his rehab is going to be successful, and we'll go into the season without a problem."

On whether the fact that they had to make an incision makes the recovery period longer: "No. I think people confuse the term arthroscopic and minor. They kind of intertwine those two terms. You can still have minor surgery and have an incision. It's just the fact that they can't get a scope back there in the posterior part of his ankle. From the surgery standpoint, the correction standpoint, it doesn't matter. It matters in healing the skin, which is nothing. It's going to take him – he's a young, healthy guy with a high metabolism – it's going to take him 14 days to heal up the skin and we'll have him in the pool. So, it's not a big deal. If they scope him, his skin still needs to heal anyways. Those little incisions still need to heal, too. So it's not a real big deal to us."

On whether something changed for Westbrook between the mandatory minicamp in May and now: "I think what changed – and we obviously went back and looked at his MRIs and his x-rays from the original ankle sprain and the bone spurs, or the loose fragments, have gotten bigger and they've butted up against the tendon, which caused inflammation and then he couldn't get up on his toes, so it was kind of a progressive thing. His first complaint to us was, 'I'm hurting when I'm getting on my toes.' So things changed because of the bone spurs or the loose fragments in there seem to get bigger, and then they seem to kind of bang up against each other and start to impinge the tendon, which caused him to have difficulty in getting on his toes."

On whether he was having difficulty with his toe before the ankle pain: "No. He knew that the pain was coming from his ankle, but he was struggling to get up on his toes. Some of the stuff he is doing in rehab right now to strengthen his lower extremity, he has to get on his toes for, and he realized that when he was on calf-raises and toe-raise and stuff like that, he was starting to get pain. He tried to fight through it. We treated him a little bit. And then he got to the point where it was really a struggle and we realized that if we kept going at this rate, we were going to struggle in September."

On whether he has arthritis in the ankle joint:"You know, all these guys have arthritis, so I guess that you can classify some of the trauma from the ankle sprain that caused the loose fragments to be arthritis. So I guess technically the answer to your question is 'yes' but most of it came from trauma from the ankle sprain."

On why he thinks running backs encounter problems later in their careers:"I don't think that's true. I think that you are going to find running backs that play a long time and running backs that don't play a long time. And that's a hard generalization to make, especially with the number of running backs that we've had here that played for a while. I wouldn't even venture to look at that. I don't think there are numbers on it or anything like that that are real scientific."

On whether he thinks it will be difficult for Westbrook to maintain his level of conditioning: "I know that question came up before, that conditioning was an issue, and I don't think that anyone that questions the conditioning understands what we do for a living, doesn't understand the work ethic of Brian Westbrook. Here's a guy that struggles week in and week out to be pain free and keeps his conditioning for season after season, and offseason after offseason, so he's been down this road before.

"He and I have worked closely together. We're actually looking forward to working with each other while everyone else is away to get him in great shape. I don't foresee it as a problem. I think that he's going to come back in better shape. A little bit of ego involved, I think, because he gets to work with me straight through the summer which we haven't had a chance [to do] before. We've only worked through June and then he's been off for the summer so I'm looking forward to it. I think he's going to come to training camp in the best shape of his life."

On whether he has any concern that Westbrook won't be able to physically carry the same load as he has in previous years:"No. I think that's up to Coach. I'm not worried - if you're asking me if I'm worried about this injury and his two injuries, no I'm not at all. I'm not worried in the least about these injuries, and that's the way I've played it with Coach and with management and with the rest of the coaches. I am not concerned about this injury. I think it's something that we had an option to do or not do and we decided to do it and we are going forward and he's going to be in really good shape come the season."

On whether he thinks this injury could have a long-term impact:"That's speculation. I guess anybody, the longer they get in their career has problems, but some guys come back stronger. He was nicked up this year and maybe he'll come back and have a better year than last year because he's gotten this stuff out of the way in the offseason. Who knows? I think he's tough as nails though. He's one of the toughest guys I've ever worked with, I know that. And he's not going to back down from anything because he's nicked up, and I think he's going to come into the season very clean."

On what he thinks this injury is from:"I think the main culprit was back in, I guess it was September, when he sprained the ankle. And then, because he's so tough and because we do what we do for a living, he kept pushing through and pushing through and his body built up some scar tissue in there to a point where it's caused some pain."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.
Advertising