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]