By STEPHEN F. HOLDER
Thanks to a special therapy, also performed by Sarsota Clinic Advanced Wellness, Michael Pittman is expected to return from a severely sprained right ankle quicker than doctors predicted. He is expected to play Sunday.
Earnest Graham has 70 touches in two games.
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TAMPA – The drive lasted 10 plays. Earnest Graham touched the football only a single time. And when it was over, the Bucs running back was utterly exhausted.
Who wouldn’t be, considering the long to-do list he has each Sunday, much of which doesn’t involve carrying the ball. Or did you think running backs in the Bucs’ system take a holiday when the ball doesn’t come their way?
“He stayed in there every snap,” running backs coach Art Valero said, recalling a snapshot from last month’s game against Jacksonville. “He never came out.”
What was Graham doing? You name it: carrying the ball, running pass routes, blocking pass-rushers.
The Bucs never intended running back to be an individual endeavor. But with injuries to Cadillac Williams and Michael Pittman, and Michael Bennett not up to speed in the Bucs’ intricate offense, the Jaguars game was not an anomaly for Graham.
Now with Pittman due back for Sunday’s pivotal NFC South matchup at Atlanta, Graham will get some support. And it couldn’t come soon enough for the career backup with 34 and 36 touches, respectively, against Detroit and Arizona.
“It’s a big boost,” Graham said. “I took 70-something snaps against Arizona on Nov. 4. And the best back is a fresh back. With me and (Pittman) complementing each other, it makes us that much more dangerous. I think we’re both professionals, and we understand it’s not realistic for anybody to carry that load over an NFL season.”
Other teams attempt that, but not the Bucs.
“Earnest in the past few weeks has been in a situation that has never been experienced here,” Valero said. “You have to go back a long time to find a guy who carried this kind of load, who was an every-down guy to this extent. It’s basically been by committee. Even with Cadillac, he was the first- and second-down guy, and Pittman came in on third down. And it was difficult to get Earnest in the game because we also had Mike (Alstott).
“Earnest, he’s got all these catches, all these rushes, and he’s on special teams, and he’s blocking his (tail) off. Whew! That’s a lot.”
The Bucs are fortunate Pittman fulfilled his promise to heal quicker than team doctors predicted. He credits the swift recovery from a severe right ankle sprain to aggressive rehab and the work of Dr. Ross Hauser of Chicago, a specialist in prolotherapy. During the procedure, a dextrose solution (similar to sugar) is injected into the joint, which increases blood flow to the area and stimulates the tissue to repair itself.
Meanwhile, as Pittman healed, Graham had days such as the one Oct. 28, in which Valero said the Jaguars blitzed nearly every down in a span of 20 plays. That meant Graham was involved in a collision of some sort during each snap.
There also was the 19-play drive against Arizona during which Graham had 10 touches. Late in that game, when the Bucs were trying to run out the clock, Graham, 27, was on fumes and had to give way to Bennett.
“It’s like a boxer,” Valero said. “Their body tells them, ‘Enough.’ It’s instinct. You can look in their eyes and see they’re not the same. When you see that, you say to yourself, ‘Before he gets hurt or gets somebody else hurt, I have to spell him.’”
But the benefits of having Pittman back go beyond the reduced workload for Graham. The reality is the pair has worked well together.
Against St. Louis on Sept. 23, when Williams was benched for much of the game, Graham and Pittman combined for 131 yards on 15 carries. Against Carolina a week later – when Williams sustained his season-ending knee injury – the pair tag-teamed for 138 yards on 32 attempts.
With the coaching staff seemingly open to the idea of using a rotation for the balance of the season, perhaps Graham and Pittman can turn in more performances such as those.
“We’re trying to make a playoff run, so we definitely need each other,” Graham said. “I think we’re going to make it tough on some teams.”
This was also the treatment performed on Tiger Woods Knee injury and dozens of other star athletes which is offered at Sarasota Clinic, Adavanced Wellness Cener.
Gecko Joint & Spine
“where things grow back”
Call us for more information on how PRP works at (941) 330-8553 or e-mail me at AskDoctorJL@Gmail.com
Yours in Health,
Wellington, Chen M.D.
Lieurance, John D.C.
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Sarasota, FL 34239