Chicago Sun-Times

Camp notes: Covert says quick return from back surgery shortened his career

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Chris Williams can take it from the best left tackle in the history of the organization: don't try to come back too soon from surgery to repair a herniated disc.

Jimbo Covert said a hasty return from surgery to repair a disc in his back in 1988 wound up shortening his career. When back issues came again in 1991, Covert needed a laminectomy, he was forced to retire after eight seasons. He never made another Pro Bowl after the disc surgery.

"I came back and played seven weeks after surgery," Covert said Saturday night at practice. "Which was not smart. To try to come back and play, this is me personally, it shortened my career. That was too soon."

The Bears are floating the idea Williams could be available some time in October, two months removed from surgery. They are planning on keeping a roster spot open for Williams.

"Personally, it's his deal," Covert said when asked if Williams should sit out the entire season and become the fourth first-day draft pick in three seasons to miss his entire rookie year. "I don't know. You've got to get healthy again."

*** Cornerbacks Charles Tillman and Nathan Vasher, who were both excused Saturday night for personal reasons, were on campus this morning and are expected to be on the field when practice begins at 3 p.m.

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12 Comments

Someone else said it best that modern medicine is better than when Covert played. Or maybe he's on to something. Backs are scary and I couldn't tell you if it makes sense to keep a roster spot open when there is no certainty that he will come back this year. You can not throw away your future at the expense of trying to make up for lost time. Your back is your core and if it isn't responding why take up a roster spot with a question mark? Someone who we might need is going to be set free or not brought in because of a possibilty. That isn't smart.

Jimbo is dead on and it's what I have been saying, give the kid the year off. They say he could be ready to play in November, but he will have missed all of training camp and half a season as a rookie. Personally Angelo just wants the kid back to try and make himself look good and could care less if he ruins the kids career. Angelo is a scum bag, he would rather ruin his players careers than admit he made a mistake, notice how he is always pushing his guys to come back early from injuries rather than letting them heal properly. Look at all the injuries on this team he put together, look at last year. If they get hurt he can say it's not my fault he came back to soon.

A few things to keep in mind are:
1) Chris is getting the operation at a much younger age than Jim was
2) Chris will purportedly take at least twice as long to recover
3) I would think the medical advancements make the surgery today better than it was in 1988.
I would think that Chris would have to start building up his core muscles in November, not necessarily blocking on Sundays. That way he'll be in prime condition for the post-season when everyone else is banged up. We'll be glad at Super Bowl time that his position was held open because of his contributions next February. I can dream can't I?

Will it matter? We'll be in last place in November. He won't make a difference. When it comes to the offense, Angelo needs to outsource the draft. New England, San Diego, or India!xu7zy7

Angelo = NFL laughing stock.

The Bears will be in last place this year. Why play?

Chris Williams took no hits in pads in an NFL camp or game. He will miss all of training camp. Yet he will be tossed into the line-up for a late season NFL game. The opposing defensive linemen will be licking their chops at the prospect of facing a green rookie (and won't care one bit about the condition of his back). Yeah, makes perfect sense to me. As a player (and team) I would respect the opinion of a Hall-of Famer like Jimbo Covert.

If this is true I would have to change my opinion on Williams returning this season. The players are 2 different animals - but both Tackles, maybe best not to ruin his carreer huh? too bad....Goes to show we shoulda drfated another lineman in the draft - no I mean a OG along with Williams I will not write off Williams as he may end up a Pro Bowler anyway.. but I can not understand that move unless Beekman does show something, it is what it is now, hope Beekman or someone comes on.

It really will also depend on what kind of Surgery Williams had, there are different procedures. He probably had a Microdiscectomy, whats really strange is that usually if your going to have back surgery for a herniated disk the Dr. will want to treat the patient with physical thereapy for 6-12 weeks and they almost never recomend surgery unless the physical thereapy has failed to help.

Here are some of the causes of herniated disks and are also the things you should avoid once you have the surgery.

Improper lifting
Smoking
Excessive body weight that places added stress on the disks (in the lower back)
Sudden pressure (which may be slight)
Repetitive strenuous activities

Williams has got every problem on that list except smoking, I think.

But hey Dr. Angelo says everything is perfect and just fine. You know I would like to here what the Dr. who performed the surgery has to say about Herniated diskd and how to prevent injury and complications for a herniated disk. Then again Angelo always says his injury prone players are in perfect health and then always says something like he doesn't understand how a certain guy keeps getting hurt or he's just snake bit or unlucky. Cause it's all about luck, oh and magic faries, and maybe Harry Potter will come to game and wave his wand and heal all the players.

The greatest trick Angelo ever performed, was convincing the world he didn't exist.

I have had back injuries, including two herniated discs, and I recommend taking the needed time to properly recover. A nurse sadi it best to me "in medical science you can replace a heart, you can replace a lung, you can correct vision problems, you still cannot replace a spine. Do not rush back, it is not worth having any more problems in the future, not just this season but for life, because you wanted to make an impact your rookie season.

You know Tom Thayer also had something to say about this.

According to former Bears guard Tom Thayer, the bigger mistake would be assuming this injury will impair Williams' career the way it has affected his rookie season. Thayer was at a different stage of his career when he had a similar surgery to correct a herniated disc—after his 10th season of pro football—but sees no reason why Williams won't benefit from the procedure the way he did.

"This is the best thing for Chris and his future," said Thayer, the Bears analyst for WBBM-AM 780. "If they don't place him on injured reserve, he will be able to play this year. And there's no doubt I think he will come back a stronger and more confident player for the rest of his career."

I find what Thayer says very interesting in the last paragraph.

I am really surprised nobody caught on to what Tom Thayer had to say about Williams. He said this surgery should make Williams a more confident player. Why would surgery make him a more confident player? If there was nothing wrong in the first place that is. However if Williams has been dealing with this pain for awhile now, well thats a different story.

You see surgery isn't always the answer with Herniated disks, usually you go through Physical therapy for about 6-12 weeks and if that doesn't work then you get the Surgery. I believe Williams has been going through this Therapy for about 12 weeks now, notice the injury occured during non-contact drills on the first day of camp. The Bears knew he couldn't do contact and that people would ask questions so thats when they announced the injury. They also continued the therapy for 2 weeks hoping it would fix the problem and that was probably the end of the 12 weeks of thereapy and it was at that point that they went for surgery.


Creighton I agree about the therapy, I never had surgery for mine (my L4/L5 and L5/S1 were herniated), I do spinal decompression monthly and did physical therapy three times a week for two months to avoid surgery (two years ago when I was told I needed surgery, I search for alternatives, and decided to give it a try).

The monthly decompression is a personal choice not one the doctor said I needed. I use it as maintenance more than anything. It has allowed me to avoid surgery, but everyone is different and reacts to all forms of treatment differently.

In addition I do not have the same insurance, or quality of doctors readily available that Williams does which also does make a difference in every decision.

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on August 10, 2008 1:06 PM.

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