Cowboys running back Tony Pollard underwent surgery on Tuesday for the high ankle sprain he suffered during Sunday’s divisional-round playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
The four-year playmaker now faces a recovery and rehab of several months. But it’s thought that he’ll be at full strength “well before training camp,” at least if Tua Tagovailoa, Jalen Hurts, and Ryan Tannehill’s experiences can be used as a barometer.
Pollard reportedly had the same “tightrope” procedure performed as all three of those quarterbacks, as per Todd Archer of ESPN.
The procedure uses braided polyethylene cord and is fastened to both the tibia and fibula to reduce the gap between the bones that the injury may have worsened. Small holes through both bones allow the cord to be fastened at either end of the “tightrope” with metallic buttons, and the suture is then tightened like a nylon zip-tie until the bones’ spacing is correct. The cord stabilizes the ankle while the body’s natural ligaments heal.
In a conventional surgery, long screws are used to physically hold the bones to one another during the initial healing. Those screws have to be removed via a second surgery, prolonging the rehab. The tightrope, however, stays in place: one lesser procedure, one usually-quicker recovery.
Hurts and Tagovailoa both underwent the procedure for ankle sprains while at Alabama in 2018. Both returned to play in a matter of weeks.
In 2019, Tagovailoa had the procedure repeated on his other ankle. He was back on the football field, playing in a CFP semifinal game, 28 days after that sprain.
Tannehill had tightrope surgery shortly after the ankle sprain he sustained on Dec. 18. The Titans had hopes of him even returning for the regular-season finale before finally placing him on injured reserve Dec. 29.
For Pollard, the tightrope addresses only the high ankle sprain he suffered Sunday. His fractured fibula will be allowed to heal on its own and will extend Pollard’s recovery time.
The Cowboys, meanwhile, have a decision to make regarding Pollard’s future with the club. He’s set to become a free agent, but Dallas could choose to award him a new contract or even use the franchise tag on him to retain the 1,000-yard-rusher’s services.
“Tony Pollard, he’ll be back from the injury,” Cowboys vice president of player personnel Will McClay said Monday on Cowboys Hour. “But he’s a very vital cog to what we do. Other people see him as a very vital cog to what they could do as well. There’s a lot of running backs in free agency, so depending upon what people want to do… But he’s an explosive, playmaking guy.”
And hopefully Tony Pollard’s tightrope helps him get back to doing just that sooner rather than later.