Monday, November 23, 2009

Department of Bad News: Ladell Betts


Eighth year Redskins tailback Ladell Betts suffered serious knee injuries two weeks ago in game ten against the Dallas Cowboys, Ladell was injured in the first quarter of that game, his second start in place of primary back Clinton Portis who is still out after suffering a concussion in game eight against the Falcons, in the cutback on a left side run Ladell was tackled by Dallas linebacker Bradie James and tore both the anterior cruciate ligament and the medial collateral ligament in his left knee, Ladell was placed on injured reserve on Monday 23 November 2009 and will miss the final six games of the season.

Like all ligaments, the ACL and MCL connect bone to bone, as opposed to tendons, which connect bone to muscle. While both ligaments' jobs are to stabilize the knee, the ACL's primary function is to hold the tibia, or lower leg bone, in line and limit rotation of the knee joint. The MCL is on the inside of the knee and its primary function is to prevent the lower leg bone from swinging out, or quote opening up unquote.

These are serious knee injuries, the same injuries suffered by teammates Rocky McIntosh and Carlos Rogers in 2007 and will require surgery and months of rehabilitation.

Despite assuming a nominal role this season as third down back, Ladell's numbers in 2009 through seven games were not much different from his 2008 or 2007 numbers, with Clinton Portis healthy the past two seasons the touches simply are not there. After Clinton went down against the Falcons, Ladell ramped up quickly as the feature back, with numbers to match, 70 yards on fifteen carries, a 4.7 yards per carry average in Atlanta and 114 yards on 26 carries, a 4.4 yards per carry average at home against Denver.

Ladell has experience as the starter, in 2006 Clinton Portis suffered a separated shoulder on the first possession of the first preseason game and was never himself on the field, Ladell managed to rack up over 1100 yards on only nine starts that season, including a remarkable stretch in November and December of five games with one hundred yards or more rushing, in that stretch he became the only running back in Redskins history to post back to back rushing games of 150 yards or more. Despite Clinton's woes that season and the general malaise afflicting the team, the running game was a huge bright spot in 2006.

Ladell has spent his entire eight year NFL career in Washington, signing a five year contract extension toward the end of that 2006 season, he then reworked his contract before the 2008 season to give the team some additional salary cap room and him some more cash.

I am not alone among Redskins fans hoping Ladell makes a full recovery and returns to the sideline for the 2010 season.

Ladell Betts: AP Photo from here.