Like Robert Griffin III, Chase Minnifield Recovering From Second ACL Operation
Chase Minnifield called Robert Griffin III not long after the Washington Redskins quarterback found out he needed surgery on the ACL and LCL in his right knee.
But while Minnifield had been instrumental during the season in offering advice to several other teammates about their recoveries, he knew Griffin, who tore the ligament once before, wouldn’t need it.
“I don’t think an injury like this is easy, no matter how much you know or who’s working with you,” Minnfield said by phone Friday. “It comes down to you versus yourself. How much can you take?”
Minnifield is seven months removed from his second surgery, both of which, like Griffin’s, were performed by James Andrews. He originally tore the ACL in his right knee in 2007, after his senior season in high school, then tore it again in late June in the final days of the Redskins’ organized team activities.
A standout cornerback at the University of Virginia, Minnifield was at one time viewed as an early-round draft pick. But he was not chosen in the NFL Draft last April because of concerns over the health of his right knee and was later signed by the Redskins as an undrafted free agent.
The 6-foot, 186-pound Minnifield had, according to his coaches, a spectacular offseason before he tore the ligament in his knee. The timing of the injury made it a certainty that he would miss his rookie season.
“It was really tough for me, just because it seemed like I couldn’t catch a break at the time,” Minnifield said. “But things happen for a reason, and you can only just get back and go to work on it, do whatever it is you have to do.”
Andrews, the team’s orthopedist, found no damage to other ligaments and determined the injury was isolated solely within Minnifield’s ACL. He fixed the tear by taking a piece of the patellar tendon from his healthy left knee and grafting it into his right, which was the same procedure performed on Griffin.
Taking a piece of the patellar tendon is now considered the standard for repairing the ACL of high-level athletes, but it’s typically done from the same knee. Because Minnifield and Griffin each required a second surgery, Andrews took a piece of the tendon from the left knee.
Griffin, who also needed his LCL repaired, will have a different recovery than Minnifield, but it will be the same in many regards. He will remain in the Pensacola, Fla. area, where the procedure was performed, so his rehabilitation can be monitored.
“They have a pretty high-tech facility down there, and you know, it’s just a good environment to be in,” Minnifield said. “They really wanted to make sure you can get your full range of motion back, from being able to make sure your knee is fully straight and you get a little bit of hyperextension to get your full bending range. That’s very important for you to be able to get that back first, and so they really work on that a lot – hitting those marks for your range of motion by certain time points.
“Other than that, I mean, you’re just strengthening it all day, every day. You just start out with leg lifts and simple stuff like that, then you progress to step-ups, leg extensions. There’s really about three months of no weights, and then you go into the weight room and start doing leg extensions, leg curls, things like that. Before that, it’s more step-ups and leg lifts.”
None of this was new to Minnifield, who went through much of the same recovery after his senior year at Henry Clay High School in Lexington, Ky. and into his first year at Virginia. Because of the nature of the injury, he redshirted that first season.
Much like the first time, Minnifield was given a six-to-eight-month timetable for a full return to football activities.
“I kind of knew what to do,” Minnifield said. “That’s the reason why I was so hurt when I had to do it again because I knew how hard it is, and it’s not an easy thing to do, but it’s a lot of work.”
He said he has not experienced any complications from the procedure and expects to be on the field when the Redskins reconvene for voluntary workouts in early April.
“I’m going to work every day and trying to make my legs as strong as I can make them,” Minnifield said. “Just every day, it’s another day to try to get better.”