Two weeks ago, James Lee went out of the game with an ankle sprain. Jeremy Trueblood stepped back into the starting lineup at that time and played pretty well last week. He didn’t even have one of those classic Trueblood drive killing penalties. This week, Lee and Trueblood have been alternating reps with the first team, indicating that Lee may not still be back to 100%.
Ankle sprains can be tricky and they are definitely not all the same. A sprain can be anything from a microtear or stretch within the ligament to a full ligament tear. Either way, the pain comes from the swelling around the ligament and the ankle itself which makes it sensitive to pressure and limits mobility of the joint. The extent of the tear, and how much of the ligament or ligaments are involved, determines how long it takes to recover from the injury.
Often a brace or taping can help to make the ankle more stable, but this will often limit the mobility of the ankle. A tackle in the NFL needs to be able to step and adjust quickly, which requires the ankle to have some mobility. In addition, the foot needs to dorsiflex (flex the toes towards the shin) to step or move backward. This is often the first step of a tackle in pass protection. In other words, moving forward is much easier than moving backwards with a stiff ankle. This is why Lee has taken a couple of weeks to recover. It is important that he continues to show progress, as he has looked very promising and Trueblood is not likely to be resigned to a new contract this summer.
Note on Arrelius Benn injury: Benn put out a tweet that he had a torn ACL. This is not very good news as the recovery for the injury is usually around the 6-8 month range and often longer. This would put him out of most of the mini-camps and may put him out of part of the preseason or early next season. Unless, of course, there is no football next summer because the owners and players are still in complete disagreement on a contract. This may limit his development as he was just starting to show some real promise in the weeks prior to his injury.