Walter Jones watching and working at Hawks' minicamp

Published on April 11, 2009 by     Seahawk Fanatic

NFL/He usually lets his play do the talking, so on the receiving end of an interview, Seattle Seahawks offensive tackle Walter Jones doesn’t say much.

Add the fact that a reporter is asking about the recent microfracture knee surgery that cut short his 2008 season and you can probably imagine the reporter won’t need to turn the page of his notebook.

On Wednesday, however, Jones was open in discussing the season-ending surgery that has the potential to cut short an accomplished football career that has spanned 12 seasons.

But don’t be surprised if the ultra-competitive Jones, at age 35, is ready to go again for training camp in July.

“I’m just doing my rehab now,” Jones said. “Hopefully, I can come back and be the player I was.”

Microfracture surgery has doctors create tiny fractures in the bone, from which blood and bone marrow seep out to form so-called super-clots that help regenerate cartilage.

Jones has been watching from the sidelines this week, not participating in drills during veterans camp at the team’s training facility. He is rehabilitating from microfracture surgery in December and plans on making a successful return to the field. Jones is four months into a recovery period that generally takes four to six months.

After Jones’ surgery, then-head coach Mike Holmgren said he would be on the shorter ends of rehabilitation estimates because the tiny holes were drilled into non-weight-bearing bone in Jones’ leg.

But Jones understands it could still mean the end of his playing career.

“I hope not,” Jones said. “But you have to prepare for the reality of things , too. Anything can happen, but all you can do is do the things that they ask of you, and hopefully you can come back strong.”

Jones has played at a high level throughout his time with the Seahawks, but if there’s uncertainty that he will return to that level this season, Seattle may consider taking one of the top tackles available in the draft later this month.

Candidates included Baylor’s Jason Smith and Virginia’s Eugene Monroe, should either be available when the Seahawks pick at No. 4. However, team president and general manager Tim Ruskell has been inclined to take offensive linemen later in the draft, thinking the Seahawks can develop them over time.

A look at the Seahawks’ dealings with microfracture surgery shows the range of possibilities.

Seattle defensive tackle Marcus Tubbs and linebacker Will Herring both have had microfracture knee surgeries.

Tubbs’ surgery in January 2007 was the result of several injuries he suffered during his four years with the team. The Seahawks released Tubbs during training camp last season.

Herring had the surgery in February 2008 and returned to the field in October.

First-round pick Lamar King also had microfracture knee surgery at the tail end of his four-year career with Seattle, and never lived up to expectations.

Other former Seahawks who successfully returned to the field after microfracture surgery include defensive lineman John Randle and recently retired offensive lineman Chris Gray.

Randle had the surgery in 2002 and returned to play another two productive seasons for Seattle. Gray flourished after he had the surgery late in his career.

Unrestricted free agent and longtime Philadelphia offensive tackle John Runyan, the same age as Jones (35), had microfracture surgery in February and has yet to re-sign with the team.

A factor working in Jones’ favor is his durability – until last season, he had not missed a start since 2002.

Still, when asked about his projected return, all Jones did is nod and smile.

“I’m feeling pretty good,” Jones said about his recovery. “I’m doing my rehab and trying to get back.”

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