As the Indianapolis Colts take the field for their first practice of training camp this afternoon, one of their best players won’t be participating.
Defensive lineman Henry Anderson was placed on the PUP list to begin camp as he continues his rehab from a torn ACL last season, and the injury is expected to cause him to miss the entirety of training camp and preseason.
Anderson provided an update on his status and his recovery today, and he’s feeling encouraged while also being honest about the recovery process.
“My knee feels awesome,” he said. “I don’t think it could feel really any better than it does right now. It’s just, I did have pretty fairly major surgery, so I know that they want to make sure it’s 100-percent healed before they throw me out there because they would rather have me out there at 100-percent than 85, 90-percent. And I think that’s the smart thing to do.”
Earlier this offseason, Colts owner Jim Irsay suggested that Anderson might not be ready for week one, though the hope certainly is that he will be. Anderson isn’t providing a specific timetable, however, instead just saying that he’s on pace.
“I think I’m on pace where it is,” he said. “There wasn’t really a specific, ‘you’re going to return on this date.’ It’s more like, ‘see how it feels.’ And I know ACLs are anywhere from six to twelve months and I know that for some bigger dudes it can take a little longer just because you’re carrying around more weight and stuff like that. I mean, I feel like I’m on schedule, I don’t feel like I’m in front of or behind.”
While Anderson is optimistic about his progress, he’s also realistic about the challenges he will face when it’s time to get back on the field. He tore the same ACL during his sophomore year in high school, so he has a better understanding than most of what it’s like to return to the field after such an injury (he noted that his knee feels better now after his recovery than it did in high school).
“It feels good doing stuff on the side right now,” Anderson said. “It’s obviously hard to simulate what it’s going to feel like in a game. So I know [the] first week or two when I’m out there – it’s probably going to take longer than that – but it’s definitely going to take a little getting used to and I know bodies are going to be falling around and I’m going to want to protect my knee a little bit. It’s definitely going to be kind of like a mental thing when I get back out there, but as far as what I expect, I don’t really expect to be a bad player when I go back out. Whenever I’m out there I want to do my job and beat the dude I’m lined up against. If I’m playing poorly, I’m not going to be like, ‘oh my knee hurts.’ I’m not going to be like that.”
He’ll need to knock some of the rust off when he returns - as he noted, he won’t have put on pads since November and could be jumping right into game action - but he’s ready for whenever he returns. He has that itch, and he can’t wait to play again.
“It’s tough. I think standing around watching is worse than actually practicing,” he said. “And just kind of being in this atmosphere and remembering what it was like last year just really makes me want to be back out there, so definitely trying to get back out there as soon as I can but also trying to be smart about it.”
His offseason wasn’t spent vacationing like his teammates; instead he was rehabbing. He knows it will be worth it, however, because, in his words: “I really just wanted to get back to 100-percent as fast as I can because I’m really tired of rehabbing and I want to play football again.”