Marcus Lattimore: Star RB Must Avoid Rushing Back to Action At All Costs

Jesse ReedCorrespondent IFebruary 20, 2013

LEXINGTON, KY - SEPTEMBER 29: Marcus Lattimore #21 of the South Carolina Gamecocks breaks free from the Kentucky Wildcats during at Commonwealth Stadium on September 29, 2012 in Lexington, Kentucky.    (Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images)
John Sommers II/Getty Images

Marcus Lattimore is ready to "shock" the doctors at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine, but the former South Carolina star must exercise caution in how he goes about his comeback, after a devastating knee injury back in late-October.

According to WACH Fox's Brian McConchie:

During an appearance on USC''s weekly radio program "Inside the Roost" Monday night, Lattimore said he is way ahead of schedule in his recovery from knee surgery, and the doctors who evaluate him at this week's NFL combine "will be shocked, I can tell you that."

The talented running back has already made his intentions known, as he expects to be ready to play at the beginning of the 2013 NFL season. He told NFL AM on January 23:

I believe in myself. Dr. (James) Andrews actually said, 'You're going to shock the world,' so I quoted him. And I really do believe I'll be ready. I'm going at a rate that I knew I could, and I feel great. When I start jogging and I get a little bit stronger, I know it's game on then.

It seems like every player coming back from knee injuries these days is "way ahead of schedule." I'm no doctor but, even though the science of recovery has definitely improved the past few years, I worry about future implications and lingering effects for young men like Lattimore.

Adrian Peterson's shocking comeback last year for the Minnesota Vikings proved to be a phenomenal success, but he is, after, AP and those results are atypical. Nobody knows what the long-term effects of his swift recovery will be. 

Robert Griffin III is making his own recovery and all the latest reports indicate that he's well ahead of schedule and could potentially start in Week 1 of the 2013 season (h/t ESPN/s Adam Schefter). That said, he is another talented young man who would be well served to use discretion instead of charging back into battle before he's fully ready.

WARNING: This video contains gruesome images some may find hard to stomach.

The former Gamecocks star Lattimore will not be drafted in Round 1.

Honestly, it will be a shock if any team risks a second-round pick on him, given the fact that he won't even begin to run until after the combine. Lattimore's injury in 2012 wasn't his first, either. He tore the ACL in his left knee in 2011.

He's not going to earn a huge paycheck in his first three years, no matter how hard he trains and how quickly he recovers.

His talent is undeniable and, when healthy, Lattimore's production is off the charts.

As a freshman, Lattimore racked up 243 yards of offense and three touchdowns on 42 touches against Florida. Before the 2011 contest at Mississippi that saw Lattimore suffer a torn ACL, he was averaging 155 yards of offense over the first six games that year.

That said, the smartest thing this young man can do right now is prepare himself for the long haul and forget about immediate glory in hopes of returning to pre-injury form.

If Lattimore can make a successful recovery and remain healthy in the NFL, he'll be one of the best running backs in the league. But, if he rushes back to play in the opener and re-injures himself, his career might be over before it ever begins.


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