One player who will likely be monitored closely as the Colts approach free agency is Jack Mewhort. He plays at a position of relative weakness for Indy and, when healthy, has been a solid piece on the interior of a much maligned offensive line. The biggest weakness in his game is the ability to stay healthy for a full season as he has been placed on injured reserve due to knee injuries for two straight seasons and has undergone numerous surgeries on both knees in his career.
Last season it was revealed that his knee issues were due to a chondral defect. For our readers who are not orthopedists, this medical term refers to damage to the cartilage in a person’s knee. These issues are more common in athletes due to the added stress they put on their joints — and that offensive and defensive lineman are typically a tad larger than an average human being. These factors become even more important when the joint undergoes trauma and is can common — even for average sized people — when a player suffers an ACL tear.
Not all chondral defects are the same and each patient will react and recover differently depending on the severity and location of the defect. A non-exhaustive list of the symptoms from this injury include the pain one might feel from having arthritis, stiffness, and sometimes locking up in the joint. As you might be able to imagine, it is difficult to sustain a successful NFL career when dealing with a chondral defect for long periods of time, particularly for an NFL offensive lineman.
Will Mewhort recover?
Only doctors will have any real idea on the likelihood of making a full recovery or cleaning up his knees enough to return to the highest level of football competition. It seems relatively certain that the more trauma the knee is exposed to, the less likely it is that he will be able to continue playing football. Still, some players play out their whole careers without suffering an ACL tear and some who do suffer these injuries recover and move on.
Starting in December of 2016, I got banged up in a game and I came back, I think, a little quicker than I should have and I pushed it and I tried to be a tough guy. So it kind of snowballed for me this past calendar year and I tried to play through some stuff. But the past couple months have been great. I’m feeling good, I’m getting strong and I’m just eager to play ball, whether that be in Indianapolis or anywhere else. I’m excited to get back out there with whatever team that may be and just get going again.
He also addressed the concerns about his knees for the Colts or any other team moving forward and understands if teams feel they need to pass him over.
I’m a guard with two worrisome knees, in some people’s eyes. I have to prove that I can still be me. And at the end of the day, it’s a business. It’s what you sign up for. If they decide to go in another direction, that’s their prerogative, I respect that....
I’ve been lucky enough, at this point, to play four years in the NFL. And every day I wake up, I can’t believe I’ve made it this far. I’m just excited. Any team that wants me, I’m ready to get going.
It will be interesting to gauge the level of interest Mewhort receives if he makes it to the open market. His agent is surely going to work hard to find the best spot for him and if Mewhort wishes to stay in Indianapolis, it is possible he would be willing to sign for a shorter contract at a reasonable price and allow his play to do the talking for him. No matter the outcome, Colts fans should wish him the very best for the hard work he has done in the trenches on a team who has desperately needed his physical presence to open holes for running backs and keep his quarterbacks’ jerseys clean.