Bengals’ Giovani Bernard’s recovery from ACL tear is on schedule for 2017

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Giovani Bernard #25 of the Cincinnati Bengals attempts to run the ball past Manti Te'o #50 of the San Diego Chargers during the first quarter at Paul Brown Stadium on September 20, 2015 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Sept. 19, 2015 - Source: John Grieshop/Getty Images North America)

Reports coming out of the Bengals camp state that Bernard will make a full recovery from his ACL tear before the season starts. This is great news for the Bengals who can avoid placing him on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. When running backs are recovering from an ACL tear, it is important that players are given time to heal and rehabilitate.

Think about your knee as a hinge joint, similar to the brackets on a door. A rod connects the two plates so the door only opens a specific way. The knee is similar. Various ligaments and meniscuses connect the femur and the tibia. When you are engaging in a normal activity, the knee operates without any issues. However, when you begin to add pressure from running, jumping, planting and cutting, various ligaments in the knee work harder to preserve stability.


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The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is not that large or strong. Running along the center of your knee it is only a few inches long and, on average, can only withstand 500-pounds of force. When you plant your foot on the ground, the ligament ensures the shin and knee are limited in motion so you can change direction. When the ligament tears, it is usually when the runner has securely planted their foot and is hit at or near the knee. This is what happened to Giovanni Bernard in week eleven.

In the final drive against the Bills, Bernard runs seven yards out for a curl route. Once Bernard turns to run up the field, he plants his left foot and positions himself ready to cut back inside between the two defenders. However, the cut and the force of the tackle from Bills’ Carl Bradford caused the ACL tear. While the initial hit and immediate bounce back did not make the injury appear significant, it was still significant enough to cause the sprain.

While ACL tears can be severe, depending on the grade, it is possible for the ACL to heal with physical therapy without needing surgery. If the patient requires surgery, the recovery time can take anywhere from six to twelve months. For Bernard’s injury, if he were to go onto the PUP list, he would be automatically required to sit six games, even if he healed much faster. But with the right and consistent treatment, Bernard is said to be on schedule to play for the 2017 season.

While Bengals fans want Bernard to be in the backfield, adding Mixon will help reduce stress on Bernard to return to action. The Bengals should focus on player health and longevity for this type of injury. This is the second time Bernard has had this type of injury, the first being in college. Let’s hope the results are the same.

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