Percy Harvin sat out the first day of Seahawks' training camp on Thursday due to, according to NFL.com's Ian Rapoport, a 'slight tear' of his hip labrum. Pete Carroll was asked about Rapoport's report after practice and confirmed it was an injury to the hip area but wasn't able to go into any specifics.
"It's in that area, yeah," Carroll said. "We're going to take a real good look at it and get second opinions and all that kind of stuff, to do the right thing. It's really early in camp, we got plenty of time to get this thing worked out, so we're being very careful."
"It may be. We'll find out. We're going to go ahead and take it step by step. I know he was working full speed just a few days ago. But we need to take care of him. We don't know enough information. The number of guys we have on PUP we have to be careful. We have to bring them back in good order and be diligent about the process right now."
Surgery clearly is an option for Harvin at this time, although a source who regularly communicates with Harvin told Rapoport that wasn't the Seahawks doctor's recommendation. Harvin will receive a second opinion Tuesday, the source said.
Curiously, and this is just a great microcosm of the clusterf*ck that was yesterday's speculation bonanza on Harvin, CBSSports' Jason La Canfora reported that Harvin's first doctor (ostensibly the Seahawks' doctor?) did in fact recommend surgery. Awesome.
So, here's the bottom line - we have conflicting reports on whether or not Harvin's first medical opinion was to get surgery or not and we have wildly varying timetables for return if Harvin does indeed decide to get the surgery. We also have no idea on the severity of the injury or whether the severity of the injury really matters for the timetable of return (i.e., even if it's a small tear it may still require a lot of rehab. or not. we don't know yet).
However, I do tend to trust the opinions of doctors and medical professionals or injury experts over the opinions of Harvin's camp and/or teammates/coaches, so if you're going to read about the Harvin injury situation and prognosticated return-schedule, please pay close attention to the source.
Dr. Jene Bramel is a great resource in my opinion, as he wears two hats professionally, one as a medical doctor, and one as a fantasy football guru/football writer. He explained the situation quite well on his twitter feed last night, in this podcast for Football Guys at the 18:00 minute mark or so, and at his blog, and noted something very important in this whole process:
Harvin has often been very involved and knowledgeable about his medical conditions. He sought multiple opinions when migraines limited him in the past, trying multiple medications and dietary changes before finding a regimen that was successful for him. He was very specific about his ligament injury late last season while rehabbing a significant ankle injury.
This is why we can't necessarily just assume that the 'first doctor' recommended surgery and Harvin is going to get a second opinion that will hopefully recommend no surgery. That's not a logical leap; Harvin may be looking at the long-term health of his hip over the short-term impact he'll have with the Hawks. He's recently signed a six-year deal with the Hawks worth a lot of money so it's very possible he's looking for the option that leaves him with the least chance of a degenerative issue developing.
Having a "slight" tear may not mean a lesser surgical procedure. Unlike meniscal injuries to the knee, the trend has been to stitch all labral tears back together rather than shaving or smoothing them down. Such a repair can be done arthroscopically, but rehabbing any hip surgery takes time.
Most rehab protocols for hip arthroscopy suggest sport-specific activity can begin around 9-12 weeks after surgery. The rest of the rehab is then open-ended. Essentially, the player is ready when he's ready. That could be 12 weeks, 16 weeks, or much longer. Elite athletes may hit the more optimistic end of the timetable, but 12-16 weeks may be a reasonable expectation -- if there are no unexpected findings during surgery and no complications during rehab.
So, a 3-4 month return is probably the sweet spot for Harvin if he chooses surgery. If Harvin has the surgery soon, that makes a late November return possible. Should Harvin elect to try to play through the injury but be unsuccessful and need surgery later, he risks missing critical weeks late in the season. For Harvin and the Seahawks, a team expected to make a deep playoff run, that may be a risk they're unwilling to take.
Bramel adds a few notes on players that have gone through this type of injury in the past (Brandon Marshall and Osi Umenyiora), so head over to that blog for more on that.
So - to sum up - if Harvin does indeed need surgery, brace yourself for the thought that Harvin could miss the first half of the 2013 season. Not saying it will happen, but at this point, surgery will probably put him out of action for at least a portion of the first half of the season, at least.
Now - there's the real chance that Harvin will decide to postpone surgery on his hip. That's where this second opinion comes in.
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter (via PFT),
"Harvin is going to travel to New York to get a second opinion from Dr. Bryan Kelly. Kelly specializes in hip injuries and performed surgery on New York Yankees pariah Alex Rodriguez's torn labrum earlier this year among many other operations."
Our own Craig Johnstone - trained in the medical field as a Critical Care Nurse (CCRN) on a Trauma Recovery & Acute Care Unit (TRACU - a specialized facet of an ICU that deals with the rehabilitation and pre/post-surgical needs of patients) - will come out of Drunken character at some point over the next few days to break down what he knows about the injury in much, much greater detail (and hopefully get the opinions of some of his medical colleagues), so please be looking for that soon.
Until we know more - stand fast, keep your head up knowing Seattle still has a very good offense even without Harvin (though he will undoubtedly make them much better) - and brace yourself for the possible news that he'll miss some games this year. If he doesn't, that's excellent, but at this point, a lot hinges on that second opinion, which happens Tuesday.