Brandon Graham's Injury More Serious Than Originally Revealed?

Brandon Graham's Injury More Serious Than Originally Revealed?

Last December, the Eagles caught a bad break when rookie defensive end Brandon Graham's ACL gave out, costing him the rest of his season and likely derailing any chance of significant improvement from him in year two. As it turns out, what we didn't know at the time is that was not the extent of his injury--not by a long shot.

According to AnnArbor.com (via Jeff McLane), Graham underwent microfracture surgery over the winter to repair the ACL. Even before that bit of knowledge, it was suspected he would miss at least part of the upcoming season, but how bad is it really?

By itself, an ACL tear already clouded Graham's future. While most professional athletes nowadays seem to eventually make full or almost full recoveries from such an injury, there are no guarantees, and the road back is long. The common perception is it takes over a year until the knee begins to feel strong again.

Now we're hearing the injury is much more substantial, and the procedure to correct it potentially debilitating at that. Is it impossible to come back from microfracture surgery? No, but you should be much more concerned today than you were before. Studies put the success rate around 75%, so a significant number of people are never the same.

In Graham's case, he was only on the field enough last season to show some promise, but not enough that you could count on him ever becoming a difference maker or even consistent starter. That's not what you want to hear about the 13th overall pick in last year's draft, especially when 2011 was probably already going to be a wash.

Sure, Graham wasn't going to be counted on to make huge strides in his sophomore season anyway--he wasn't even going to be ready by Week 1. The new question is whether he'll ever be "ready" again, which is both sad and terrible luck after the organization invested so much to move up and select the Michigan product.

At the very least, adding another pass rusher in free agency this summer would appear to be a greater priority, which may be one reason why the Eagles chose not to reveal this information.

Maybe we're overreacting a bit. Graham claims he is currently 80% recovered, though that likely means until he is cleared to hit the field again. Whether he is ever 100% in the sense that he is the player the Eagles drafted last April was something we were left to wonder already. Unfortunately, the odds would appear to only have got worse.

>>Brandon Graham expects to miss start of NFL season [AnnArbor.com]

>>Graham had microfracture knee surgery [Philly.com]

>>Micro surgery is a risky business [Denver Post]

Sixers take lasting lessons from talk with Will Smith at team dinner

Sixers take lasting lessons from talk with Will Smith at team dinner

GALLOWAY, N.J. — The sprawling city skyline could have been the highlight of the Sixers' team dinner at One Liberty Place on Monday night. Instead, it was a surprise celebrity appearance that left them in awe.

Will Smith, who is part of the Sixers’ ownership, caught the players off guard when he visited with the team to offer advice and answer questions.

“Man, that’s one of my idols,” Nerlens Noel said following the first training camp session at Stockton University. “Everything he said I really took in and all the guys did too.”

Rather than entertaining the group with his acting or musical skills, Smith imparted important lessons that are applicable in sports. The 48-year-old has had decades of success across multiple platforms, and he offered pieces of wisdom that can resonate in any situation. 

“If you have bad people around you, that’s how people see you and that’s how you are,” Joel Embiid said. “He said to have good people around. That’s the main thing I got from that.”

The Sixers had differing memorable moments the morning after Smith’s visit, which demonstrated how many topics he addressed with the team. 

“He’s a good guy,” Ben Simmons said. “I definitely learned a lot from hearing him talk … You’ve got to look at things from a positive and negative with every situation.”

Jahlil Okafor was especially caught up in Smith’s appearance. Smith is Okafor’s favorite actor, most notably for his role in I Am Legend, and impressed Okafor with his character. 

“We already know about his accolades and how smart he is and obviously he’s an entertaining person,” Okafor said. “But it just seemed like he really wanted to be there to help us out. I just took away that he was a great person.”

Okafor also added, “It just helps [to hear from him] because the road to success is pretty much the same. It’s about being focused, it’s about knowing that you’re going to be knocked down, you’re going to fail. That was one of the messages that Will Smith shared, was expect failure but the main thing is to get back up.”

Noel previously had seen Smith courtside at Sixers games, and this was his first opportunity to hear directly from him. Noel listened to everything Smith had to say, from how to deal with the media to ranking his best and worst movies. 

“Never get caught up in too much of the negativity,” Noel recounted. 

While people view professional athletes as celebrities, the Sixers were on the opposite side Monday evening. 

“It’s hard to get starstruck nowadays,” Noel said. “But when you see Will Smith, it’s a whole different ballgame.”

Tonight's lineup: With only RHPs left, could Ryan Howard start every game?

Tonight's lineup: With only RHPs left, could Ryan Howard start every game?

If healthy, Ryan Howard is expected to start all three games in the Phillies' final series of the season Sept. 2-4 at home against the Mets.

He might also start the entire Braves series.

The Phillies' final six games are all against right-handed starting pitchers: Julio Teheran, Mike Foltynewicz and Josh Collmenter in Atlanta; Robert Gsellman, Bartolo Colon and Noah Syndergaard with the Mets. That could mean six starts for Howard before his time with the Phillies expires.

Howard's batting average has been below .200 for practically the entire season, but he's been much better since the All-Star break, hitting .259/.325/.598 with 11 homers, five doubles and 25 RBIs in 123 plate appearances (see game notes). He went 0 for 6 in his last two starts but homered in each of his two previous starts to reach 23 for the third year in a row.

Here's the Phillies' full lineup Tuesday against Teheran:

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Roman Quinn, LF
3. Odubel Herrera, CF
4. Maikel Franco, 3B
5. Ryan Howard, 1B
6. Cameron Rupp, C
7. Freddy Galvis, SS
8. Aaron Altherr, RF
9. Jerad Eickhoff, P

Matt Kemp is out of the Braves' lineup.

1. Ender Inciarte, CF
2. Adonis Garcia, 3B
3. Freddie Freeman, 1B
4. Nick Markakis, RF
5. Tyler Flowers, C
6. Jace Peterson, 2B
7. Dansby Swanson, SS
8. Mallex Smith, LF
9. Julio Teheran, P

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