The Washington Redskin’s week 2 game had barely gotten on its feet before Robert Griffin III was knocked off of his. Griffin rolled out to his right to pass. The Jaguars pass rush drove him towards the sideline. Griffin planted his left foot hard to throw the ball, but his body continued to move to the right. The momentum carrying his body was so great that it dislocated his tibia and fibula.
It was a familiar sight for NFL fans, conjuring memories of 2012 when Griffin tore his ACL at the end of his rookie season. As he lay on the ground Sunday, writhing in pain, it was clear that his foot was pointing in the wrong direction. Trainers took Griffin to the training room, and he wasn’t seen again until the post game press conference where he approached the podium on crutches sporting his typical RG3 toothy smile.
Not only did he suffer an extremely painful injury, but it’s also an extremely rare injury. Dislocated ankles generally go hand-in-hand with a fracture. The tendons that keep the ankle joint together are very durable and do an excellent job of holding the ankle in the correct conformation. When tendon lacerations occur, there is typically an associated boney fracture involved. As confirmed by the MRI this morning, that is not the case with RG3’s ankle injury. That’s a lucky break – pun intended.
A dislocated ankle should not be put back into place, prior to radiographic confirmation that the afflicted area is negative for a fractures. If there was a fracture, the ankle would require surgery to realign and stabilize the joint.
Now that Griffin’s ankle is back in place, his rehabilitation should begin post-haste. He’ll likely take the first 2-3 days to simply rest his ankle, allowing the swelling to reduce and his tendons to strengthen. He will then start light flexibility and strengthening exercises, as he tries to regain balance and stability in the joint. Next comes the fun part – putting weight on the joint. Water therapy is often used for this variety of injury, allowing function to return while minimizing full weight-bearing exercises. As Griffin progresses, his medical staff will give the green light for the Redskins training staff to start total high velocity weight-bearing training.
Griffin isn’t likely to return to the field for at least a month and most likely longer. How quickly his body repairs itself, and how confident he is with his ankle’s stability, will determine how soon he can return. Griffin didn’t look to be himself last season, after returning from knee surgery. He’s looked more mobile this season, making it that much more frustrating for him to suffer another lower extremity injury. Limiting his running in practice, as well as adding more offensive plays to the book that keep him in the pocket, will help to keep him on the field longer and hopefully lengthen his football career. With an elite player, known to get injured frequently, every little bit helps.