Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

28 Apr 2010

Ryan Clady Tears Patellar Tendon Playing Basketball

Broncos left tackle Ryan Clady has apparently torn his patellar tendon while playing basketball. This is, very obviously, a catastrophic injury for the Broncos, who were already undergoing changes across their offense, and the first example of the injury regression that should be expected to come their way in 2010. I'll update this post with more about Clady's injuries and his comparables in a bit.

UPDATE: This is getting interesting. Adam Schefter and Jason LaCanfora are both reporting that Clady will only miss 3-4 months, and should be able to return for training camp.

Something's amiss here. We have a wide variety of players listed with torn patellar tendons in our injury database. I can't find a single player that managed to either recover from a torn patella in the middle of a season in three months time, or a player that suffered a torn patella in the offseason and then recovered to start the season. Not one.

In fact, there's only one player I can find who didn't miss the entire year with their torn patellar tendon. Perhaps the closest comparison to Clady is Seahawks center Robbie Tobeck, who tore his patella tendon in May of 2000. Tobeck went on the Physically Unable to Perform list to start the season, and only managed to play in four games, none as a starter. LeCharles Bentley of the Browns, another center, tore his patella in July of 2006 and was immediately placed on injured reserve. He never played again, although that had much more to do with staph eating his knee than the initial injury.

Every other player I've found with a torn patella went on IR or missed more than six months. In fact, every other instance of a player appearing on the injury list (besides those on injured reserve) with a torn patella is an example of a player being listed with that injury from the previous season. Several players were expected to come back from the injury, were placed on the PUP list or were inactive to start the season, and then ended up on IR -- Germane Crowell in 2001 and Gary Baxter in 2007 are examples. Nate Webster came off of PUP in 2005 but was never healthy enough to make the active roster.

In other words, it's impossible to reconcile history with the idea that Clady's going to be back by August. So either one of three things are true here:

1) Clady doesn't have a torn patellar tendon

2) The Broncos and/or Clady are misinforming people about the expected timeframe of his injury

3) Clady is superhuman and will heal at a rate no NFL player ever has.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 28 Apr 2010

60 comments, Last at 03 May 2010, 7:28pm by tunesmith


by someguy (not verified) :: Wed, 04/28/2010 - 5:14pm

Who will protect Tim Tebow now?!

by nath :: Wed, 04/28/2010 - 6:57pm

"And do you remember when there was only one set of footprints? That was when Ryan Clady tore his patella."

by fogarty :: Wed, 04/28/2010 - 8:29pm


by rageon :: Wed, 04/28/2010 - 9:41pm

Took me a second to get it, but wow, nice.

by Neoplatonist Bolthead (not verified) :: Wed, 04/28/2010 - 10:22pm

Neoplatonist Bolthead likes this.

by Bobman :: Thu, 04/29/2010 - 2:52am

Sheer brilliance. Just awesome. I am so not worthy.

Out of thanks, I bet Tebow turns Gatorade into... actual fruit juice for you. Naah, that's impossible.

by Independent George :: Thu, 04/29/2010 - 10:52am


by galactic_dev :: Fri, 04/30/2010 - 11:29am


by Alex51 :: Wed, 04/28/2010 - 10:27pm

Well, it could be worse. At least Clady wasn't supposed to protect Tebow's blind side. Tebow's left handed, so losing their right tackle might've been a bigger problem for Tebow.

by Marko :: Wed, 04/28/2010 - 5:32pm

That's awful news for him and the Broncos. At least they can get someone in the draft who can fill in for him. Oh, wait . . . .

Well, I'm sure the Broncos used their premium picks wisely in the draft and can expect lots of contributions from their picks immediately. Oh, wait again . . . .

by The Ninjalectual :: Thu, 04/29/2010 - 2:48pm


"Just look at that pumpkin."
-John Madden, looking at the moon.

by BucNasty :: Wed, 04/28/2010 - 5:34pm

That's awful. At least there's a recent precedent for recovery.

by Jason :: Wed, 04/28/2010 - 5:46pm

Is that sarcasm or is there something I missed from the write-up?

If I hit a grand slam on this hole-in-one the dominoes will fall like a house of cards. Checkmate.

by KnowsHow2RamIt :: Wed, 04/28/2010 - 5:56pm

I think the worst thing about this is that I read the update saying he'll only miss 3-4 months and thought, "Oh, he'll be back in the middle of the season, then."

But then I realized that 3-4 months from now is closer to the BEGINNING of the season. Sob. It does seem like something is amiss, though, that recovery time seems way too quick.

by BucNasty :: Wed, 04/28/2010 - 6:01pm

If the tendon was separated from the bone rather than torn in half, it's nowhere near as bad. Mark Jones and Cadillac Williams each suffered from this type of injury at the end of the season and were starting the next year. Having it happen in late April and still making it back on time is a bit different, though.

by Big Johnson (not verified) :: Wed, 04/28/2010 - 10:34pm

" think the worst thing about this is that I read the update saying he'll only miss 3-4 months and thought, "Oh, he'll be back in the middle of the season, then.""

i thought the same thing. sigh

by andrew :: Wed, 04/28/2010 - 6:06pm

Tim Tebow will lay his hands on the knee and pronounced it healed....

by Shattenjager :: Wed, 04/28/2010 - 6:55pm

I checked this thread before there were any comments and immediately tried to come up with a Tebow comment. I did not think of something that simple. Congratulations.

by Theo :: Wed, 04/28/2010 - 7:11pm

Scary part is that it's not far from the truth:

Tim Tebow will put his hands in the air and pronounce it's a priority and it's healed....

by RickD :: Thu, 04/29/2010 - 10:36am

That's "not far from the truth"?

by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 04/29/2010 - 10:42am

Well, he can put his hands in the air can't he?

by Sander :: Wed, 04/28/2010 - 6:15pm

Cadillac Williams' second patellar tendor tear (which happened in the last game of the '08 season) was a clean, off-the-bone tear which had him performing well by preseason and actually had him running well throughout the entire season. That was about the best case scenario you could hope for with a patellar tendon tear, but that recovery took a lot longer than the 3 months Ryan Clady is projecting here. It just doesn't seem possible to see Clady in camp, or probably even the first couple games of the season.

by Theo :: Wed, 04/28/2010 - 6:32pm

Had to translate what a pattelar tendon is, but that is a hard injury.
But you can tear it and uh... rip it. Like just damage it.
So could be anything right.

Anyway, it's an injury to a very good LT. So the broncos won't like it at all.

by Jimmy :: Wed, 04/28/2010 - 6:37pm

Does this explain the Zane Beadles with the 45th pick? Probably hoping he can stand up for half a year (or more) and then provide depth at tackle or guard.

by Marko :: Wed, 04/28/2010 - 6:43pm

No, because the injury apparently happened over the weekend. Beadles was drafted on Friday.

by Jimmy :: Wed, 04/28/2010 - 6:54pm

Ah, I see (could Friday evening count as the weekend?).

Anyway it looks like I am going to have to search for another reason for why the Denver Broncos selected offensive players with their first five picks.

by Fan in Exile :: Thu, 04/29/2010 - 9:49am

It would probably help if you look at the FA defensive players they brought in. As well as the 15th ranking for offense, compared to the defense.

by tunesmith :: Mon, 05/03/2010 - 7:28pm


by Raiderjoe :: Wed, 04/28/2010 - 6:47pm

Btoncos 2-14 here they come. Zane Beafles not going to have same ompact as clady did when rookue. Giing to be long season for broincod and this just another reason why

by Temo :: Wed, 04/28/2010 - 6:57pm

I don't know about the returning to camp stuff (since 3-4 months means a return in early August or early September, so how can you be so sure he'll be back for camp?).

But if what they meant is that he'll be immobile for 3-4 months, then rehab, then join the team midway through the season... eh... maybe?

by Hari-Kiri Bengals Fan (not verified) :: Wed, 04/28/2010 - 7:27pm

Sign from God.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 04/28/2010 - 7:39pm

"Every other player I've found with a torn patella went on IR or missed more than six months."

Schefter and LaCanfora are probably misunderstanding what the Broncos said. If you assume 6 months is the fastest, 6 months puts us at the beginning of November, which is right about 3 months into the season.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 04/28/2010 - 7:42pm

I'm surprised, that through 18 posts, nobody blamed McDaniels for this.

by Thok :: Wed, 04/28/2010 - 7:46pm

We all understand why McDaniels gave a hard foul as Clady went for the dunk. You have to protect the rim, man. :P

by Temo :: Thu, 04/29/2010 - 10:35am

In case you've forgotten, he was trying to just win the mother effing game.


by Bobman :: Thu, 04/29/2010 - 2:57am

McHoodie is funny, but there's a new punch line in town.

Hard to pass up Tebow (our fellow readers found it as hard as the Broncos did) and they struck a rich vein of comedy gold.

by galactic_dev :: Fri, 04/30/2010 - 11:33am

There are enough real things to blame McDaniels for already, so we don't need to pad his resume any.

by The Hypno-Toad :: Sun, 05/02/2010 - 4:24pm

My first response when my brother texted me that Clady had torn a tendon was to ask if McDaniels had stabbed him in the knee to punish him for having the temerity to still be on the team even though he had been drafted by Shanahan. Also to punish him for displaying the lack of foresight to be a franchise-caliber LT on a team that was about to throw away all of his value on a left-handed, alleged QB.

by mm (not verified) :: Wed, 04/28/2010 - 8:04pm

The Saints are a bit overloaded at Left Tackle now. Perhaps a trade could be worked out.

by Flounder :: Wed, 04/28/2010 - 8:08pm

Well, the latest is that tendon was only 50% torn, which is why the recovery time is relatively short.

by Bobman :: Thu, 04/29/2010 - 2:58am

And as sunny optimists (and sadistic coaches) will point out, that also means 50% NOT torn. So get back on the treadmill, fatty!

by Neoplatonist Bolthead (not verified) :: Wed, 04/28/2010 - 10:28pm

Week 3-6 looks like a hellride for Denver, especially without Clady. Their schedule is actually quite a bit scarier than San Diego's: I'd much rather draw New England and Cincinnati than the Jets and Ravens!

by PowderBlues (not verified) :: Thu, 04/29/2010 - 9:55am


by Kellerman :: Thu, 04/29/2010 - 10:24am

Jeesh dude, chill out. Why all the screaming? While I agree that speculating without full information is usually pointless, I will point out that Barnwell did make the comment that this might not be an actual tear. Also, even if YOU are correct, it doesn't change the fact that having your best player rehabbing a significant injury instead of jelling with his linemates and the new QB is not a good thing. It will set back the Broncos' offseason installations even if recovery is FULL in 3-4 months, notwithstanding other equally likely possibilities, such as Clady is slowed, even though playing; Clady never fully recovers; Someone else is injured because he is slowed/not there; Clady reinjures himself or gets another injury due to compensating for the knee; he gets the Bentley MRSA (unlikely, I realize)

by RickD :: Thu, 04/29/2010 - 10:39am


by Neoplatonist Bolthead (not verified) :: Thu, 04/29/2010 - 10:56am


by Raiderjoe :: Thu, 04/29/2010 - 6:18pm

i'm on ur computer
sitin on ur caps lick button

by The Hypno-Toad :: Sun, 05/02/2010 - 4:27pm

Iz in ur caps lock, makin' you yell.

by Bill Barnwell :: Thu, 04/29/2010 - 11:40am


I'm well aware it was a partial tear, PowderBlues. If it was a full tear, Clady would be looking at a recovery time of about 12 months, and we wouldn't even be having this discussion. Most tears are partial tears like Clady's, and they still take far longer than three months to recover.

by Key19 :: Thu, 04/29/2010 - 1:13pm

Thanks for clarifying. I was hoping you'd address this "partial tear so partial recovery time" rumor.

by Jotram (not verified) :: Thu, 04/29/2010 - 10:09am

I just wanna know why a 300 pound dude not named Shaq is playing basketball!

by Temo :: Thu, 04/29/2010 - 10:29am

What about Eddy Curry? Jerome James? Big baby?

by The Duder (not verified) :: Thu, 04/29/2010 - 1:46pm

Clady's tear is only partial, which is their explanation for the shorter time frame

by Jeff in Vero (not verified) :: Thu, 04/29/2010 - 8:14pm

Sorry if I missed someone else pointing out the obvious, but:

Tim Tebow Will Be The Next Great Left Tackle Of Our Generation!

by Trey (not verified) :: Fri, 04/30/2010 - 8:58am

It's obvious guys, the tendon is only torn 50%. Do some research next time.

by Anonymous (not verified) (not verified) :: Fri, 04/30/2010 - 11:35am

Read Barnwell's reply (#44), most of the tears he was discussing were also only partial tears. They still take longer than 3 months to heal. A complete tear is a year...

by Eddo :: Fri, 04/30/2010 - 12:06pm

Gosh, could some kind soul please inform us if it's a partial tear or not? I haven't seen any comments from the peanut gallery indicating that it's not a full tear! And FO hasn't even addressed it yet!

Come on, people!

/end snark

by R. Carney (not verified) :: Fri, 04/30/2010 - 5:25pm

Kind of a double edged sword here. While you want your guys to stay active and in shape during the offseason, when they do so it raises the possibility of getting hurt. It's great that Clady is doing something in the offseason to stay in shape, but maybe playing basketballisn't the best way to go about it?

by CandlestickPark :: Sun, 05/02/2010 - 3:34pm

That's unfair. If you stop guys playing hoops you might as well insist every player buy a ranch house so they don't fall down the stairs and get hurt. It's not like Clady was riding a motorcycle.

by Raiderjoe :: Sun, 05/02/2010 - 9:23pm

nate odomes wrecked end of carere beucuause played basketball one day in offoseaons

wonder if any more nfl guys missed time causue got innjured playing hoops