Monday it was reported that two of the three members of the Seattle Seahawks on the nonfootball injury list, Colby Parkinson and D.J. Reed will start practicing with the team. However, there was no mention of 2020 second round pick Darrell Taylor, but Pete Carroll did provide a very brief non-update update on Taylor and his rehab status.
Carroll won't rule out rookie DE Darrell Taylor (leg) being able to play this season. Says he's been making good progress and running hard. Hasn't done change of direction work yet though— Ben Arthur (@benyarthur) October 19, 2020
The fact that Taylor has been cleared to run is a good development, as the last known update on his rehab was back in August when he had yet to be cleared to run. In order to better understand what this new information means in terms of the timing of Taylor potentially seeing the field for the Hawks, I reached out to retired orthopedic surgeon Dr. John Gilbert for how to interpret this news.
Dr. Gilbert stated that the traditional recovery timeline for an NFL defensive end following the insertion of a titanium rod into the tibia is right around a year. However, there can be variations in that timeline, and the fact that Taylor has been cleared to run is a good sign. However, the report that Taylor had yet to be cleared for change of direction work indicates that a return is likely no imminent in his opinion. His opinion was that a return to the field would likely come no sooner than a month to six weeks after gaining clearance for change of direction work.
In Dr. Gilbert’s opinion, the biggest risk to Taylor’s recovery timeline is the failure of the titanium rod prior to the bone fully healing. The failure of the rod would be catastrophic, resulting a setback and would start the process all over from day 1. Thus, the biggest issue currently and going forward is ensuring that Taylor does not overdo his recovery work and wind up right back where he started.
As for Carroll’s optimism regarding not ruling Taylor out for this season, according to the doctor that may depend as much on how deep the Seahawks play into the postseason as it does on Taylor’s recovery. With the procedure to insert the titanium rod having been completed on January 30, 2020, the target clearance for full activity date according to Dr. Gilbert would typically be January 30, 2021. So, if his recovery timeline is accelerated compared to the norm given his youth, it’s entirely possible that being four to six weeks ahead of that schedule could see him return to the field in late December or January.
Obviously, with the details on his recovery sparse, anything beyond the fact that it is known he hasn’t been cleared for change of direction work is speculation. That said, the fact that he hasn’t been cleared for change of direction work likely means that they are probably still waiting for the fracture to fully heal, but that it has healed enough to where his straight line running is unlikely to put the rod in danger of breaking.
In short, Taylor can’t be ruled out for 2020, but his chances of playing this year may rest just as much on how deep the Seahawks play into the postseason as it does with Taylor’s own recovery.