David Gettis is one of the most intriguing wide receivers on the Panthers roster. During his rookie year in 2010, Gettis flashed a lot of potential catching passes from Matt Moore, Jimmy Clausen, Brian St. Pierre and Tony Pike. Despite playing with this rotating group of quarterbacks in a conservative, ground and pound "Foxball" offense, Gettis still managed to finish second on the team with 508 yards and 3 touchdown catches, averaging 13.7 yards per catch. He also finished seventh among rookies in receiving yards, despite being a sixth round draft pick. In a season where the Panthers finished 2-14, there's no doubt Gettis was one of the few bright spots for the team.
After his impressive rookie year, many of us here at CSR were eager to see what he could do with our newly drafted quarterback Cam Newton, who had the ability to throw the ball deep very well. With Newton's cannon arm throwing deep to Gettis (4.39 40-time), I was very excited to see what Gettis could show us in his second year.
When the lockout ended last offseason, it was reported that Gettis showed up out of shape to training camp. However, he quickly got back into shape and managed to impress Coach Ron Rivera, who said "[he] had a good last few days and has a bright future in this league". Unfortunately, impress is all he would be able to do last season, as Gettis tore his ACL when attempting to run a route and was declared out for the season shortly afterwards.
So far this offseason, Gettis has remained relatively quiet, as we haven't heard too much news other than the fact that he felt "93 percent" in an interview with Panthers.com, and expects to be fully ready for OTA's.
The one question which has bugged my mind along with many others at CSR this offseason is if David Gettis will be able to successfully return this season, and if so, how much of an impact he will have in our offense. To answer my own question, I decided to take a quick look at a small sample of other wide receivers who suffered ACL injuries and how they performed upon their return to the field.
Please note that this is not a mathematical or scientific analysis, it was simply done to have a quick look at how other wide receivers have performed after suffering an ACL injury.
Before beginning, it is important to know exactly what an ACL injury is, and how severe it can be to athletes.
A torn ACL is an injury or tear to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). The ACL is one of the four main stabilising ligaments of the knee, the others being the Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL), Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) and Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL). The ACL attaches to the knee end of the Femur (thigh bone), at the back of the joint and passes down through the knee joint to the front of the flat upper surface of the Tibia (shin bone).
ACL injuries are one of the most detrimental injuries in football. The typical time it takes for an athlete to recover is 8-12 months, and it can be very painful during this period. I know because a good friend of mine tore his ACL when we were playing in a high school football game. The results were disastrous, as he needed surgery and a 9 month long rehabilitation. Furthermore, he had to stay for an extra year in High School to get all of his credits and earn his diploma. He was never able to step foot on the football field again, and he still experiences chronic knee pain today, over ten years after his injury.
With wide receivers in the NFL who suffered ACL injuries, the results vary. Here are some wide receivers I decided to take a look at:
Jerry Rice - Way back in 1997, Rice injured his ACL on a reverse play. However, Rice made a fast return, only to re-injure his knee near the end of the season.
Pre-Injury 1996-1997 stats: 16G, 108 Rec, 1254 Yds, 8 TD
Post-Injury 1998-1999 stats: 16G, 82 Rec, 1157 Yds, 9 TD
As seen, in the 1998-1999 season, he managed to make a full recovery and put up similar numbers to the numbers he put up before his injury.
Deion Branch - Branch got injured in the playoff game against Green Bay back in 2008.
Pre-Injury 2007-2008 stats: 11 G, 49 Rec, 664 Yds, 4 TD
Post-Injury 2008-2009 stats: 8 G, 30 Rec, 412 Yds, 4 TD
Branch struggled in his return from his ACL injury, as his production dropped due to losing a lot of his speed.
Pre-Injury 2009-2010 stats: 14 G, 123 Rec, 1348 Yds, 4 TD
Post-Injury 2010-2011 stats: 15 G, 86 Rec, 848 Yds, 7 TD
One of the most biggest success stories, Welker managed to make a successful comeback from injury, although he initially did not put up great numbers like in his 09-10 season. Instead, he shined last season with a career high 1569 yards receiving and 9 touchdown passes, also a career high.
Domenik Hixon - Mainly a depth receiver before suffering an ACL injury in minicamp during the 2010 offseason. He went on to re-injure his ACL on a touchdown catch in the 2011 season.
Pre-Injury 2009-2010 stats: 14 G, 15 Rec, 187 Yds, 1 TD
Post-Injury 2008-2009 stats: 2 G, 4 Rec, 50 Yds, 1 TD
The Giants re-signed Hixon to a small contract this offseason, but it is doubtful he will be fully healthy.
Joey Galloway - In the 2000-2001 season, Galloway played in only one game before tearing his ACL.
Pre-Injury 1999-2000 stats: 8 G, 22 Rec, 335 Yds, 1 TD
Post-Injury 2001-2002 stats: 16 G, 52 Rec, 699 Yds, 3 TD
Galloway had a good return after his ACL injury, as he went on to play some of the best football of his career with Dallas and Tampa Bay.
Javon Walker - In the 2005-2006 season, Walker injured his ACL in the first game of the season with Green Bay.
Pre-Injury 2004-2005 stats: 16 G, 89 Rec, 1382 Yds, 12 TD
Post-Injury 2006-2007 stats: 16 G, 69 Rec, 1084 Yds, 8 TD
Walker successfully returned from his ACL injury, but after his 2006-2007 season, he struggled mightily with injuries and has never been the same receiver since.
Donnie Avery - Avery tore his ACL in training camp during the 2010 offseason.
Pre-Injury 2009-2010 stats: 16 G, 47 Rec, 589 Yds, 5 TD
Post-Injury 2011-2012 stats: 8 G, 3 Rec, 45 Yds, 1 TD
In conclusion, although some wide receivers have successfully returned after ACL surgery, they all saw their performance level decrease over time, through lost speed or other knee complications due to the original injury. ACL injuries can also be harmful to speedster type receivers, as they can lose a lot of their deep threat ability once they lose their speed. A perfect example would be Deion Branch, whose play significantly slowed down due to his injury.
As much as I would love to see Gettis succeed, the chances are low for him to make an impact in our offense, as Gettis used his fast speed to burn opposing cornerbacks. After his ACL injury, I doubt he can still run a 4.39. However, I hope he can prove me wrong this upcoming season - I can`t wait!
I'd like to thank you all for reading my first FanPost. Any comments, feedback or criticism about my article would be appreciated. Thanks!