If the RG3 knee injury, which came at a time when he clearly shouldn’t have been playing, will spark a culture change in the NFL when it comes to injured players playing, it may take a little while for the shift to begin.
Maybe, perhaps, until God isn’t willing and/or the creek rises.
That likely won’t happen in time to keep 49ers keeping defensive lineman Justin Smith out of Saturday night’s showdown with the Packers as he continues to recover from a torn triceps.
Smith practiced on Thursday, once again on a limited basis. As Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle explains the situation, it sounds like the team will let Smith play if he thinks he can, which sounds a lot like the rationale given by the Redskins for leaving Griffin in Sunday’s loss to the Seahawks, until multiple ligaments in his knee popped.
“Well, [Smith] told me he’s ready and he’s ready to go,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said Tuesday. “And that’s enough for me.”
On Wednesday, Jim Harbaugh said that, in the end, it’s up to the physicians not the players. “The doctors are always consulted,” Harbaugh said. “And the player knows his body the best, but the doctors have final decision. They’re not going to just let a guy go out and play if he can’t protect himself, or could severely make it worse than what it already is. That’s a general rule of thumb.”
Still, the players think the doctors will defer to their supposed patients. “It’s basically us,” tight end Delanie Walker said. “[The team doctor] will tell you he don’t think you should [play], but if you feel like you think you can, they’d give you the OK. You know your body better than anyone.”
That’s the common attitude for most NFL teams. The players want to play, and the team doctors won’t be the team doctors for long if they don’t let the players play when the players want to play.
In Smith’s case, if (when) he plays he’ll be wearing a brace. Ostler asked Harbaugh how the brace would protect Smith’s damaged triceps muscle. “At the risk of sounding like I don’t know what I’m talking about,” Harbaugh said, “I suggest maybe talking to the brace manufacturer, or to one of our medical personnel or trainers.”
Harbaugh reportedly inserted a long pause before saying “manufacturer,” which created the impression that his response was “talk to the brace.” As to talking to the team’s medical personnel or trainers, Ostler says the team won’t allow that.
So, yes, we’ll all get more info from talking to the brace.