It's been a tumultuous and interesting offseason for the Denver Broncos, what with the last of the playmakers in their formerly great offense offloaded in various directions, and Josh McDaniels drafting Tim Tebow in the first round. Well, things just got much worse for McDaniels and his team. According to multiple sources, left tackle Ryan Clady, one of the best young players in the NFL, recently underwent surgery for a partially torn patellar tendon that he suffered while playing basketball. Since it was only a partial tear, some are estimating that Clady might be out for only 3-4 months, which would put him in line to miss the preseason and possibly play in the season opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars on September 12.
But as my buddy Bill Barnwell over at Football Outsiders pointed out today, the short-term recovery history for players with patellar tendon tears is not good at all. According to the FO injury database, only former Falcons and Seahawks center Robbie Tobeck was able to recover from such an injury in time to play at all in the same season, and he only participated in four games. Barnwell says that every other player in his database (which, trust me, is VERY comprehensive) with such an injury either went on IR or missed at least six months. Some players started out with hopeful forecasts, only to be placed on the physically unable to perform list (thus missing the first six games of the season) and in most cases, missing the season altogether.
We're certainly pulling for Clady - as an o-line junkie myself, I think he's one of the game's most enjoyable players to watch. But it's a harsh situation for the Broncos, who have eliminated a great deal of their offensive depth and spent some of their draft picks on developmental players like Tebow. It's quite possible that the Broncos will either pick up ex-Cowboys tackle Flozell Adams, or trade for currently unwanted Ravens tackle Jared Gaither, in the near future. It's all up to whether Clady can beat the odds, and whether the Broncos want to take that risk.