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Chad Jones Not Giving Up


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Chad Jones' miraclulous recovery on track to becoming even better


Published: Saturday, October 01, 2011, By John DeShazier, The Times-Picayune

Chad Jones does squats, works to strengthen his hamstring and loosen his Achilles, runs a series of 10-yard splits, and soon will cut loose with a timed, official 40-yard dash in front of family, friends and as many fans as want to attend. And none of that would be significant if he weren't doing it with a left leg that appeared destined for amputation.


10098902-large.jpgFormer LSU football star Chad Jones rehabs at Southern Orthopedic Specialists in New Orleans on June 30.


Jones was in a horrific car accident a little more than a year ago and is about halfway through his rehab. He is hoping to start an NFL career with the New York Giants. The limb was so horrifically damaged in a June 25, 2010, car accident that a reasonable forecast was that he'd never walk again. That kept him "on my back, not able to walk by myself" for the better part of five months.


So you can understand if Jones, a former LSU standout safety and third-round pick of the New York Giants in 2010, and the people who have helped remake him physically and mentally, are just a little pleased with themselves. You can understand if they're adrenaline-fueled heading into Wednesday, Jones' 23rd birthday.


That's the day he'll run his 40 on the track at St. Martin's High School at 6 p.m., not so much for the clock as it will be for the eyes.


"It's not so much about me worrying about the time I run," Jones said Thursday, after one of his many workouts at Final Fitness in Harahan. "It's more about me just getting out there and showing the world that there is progress, the impossible can happen. Because at first, it was impossible for me to walk. That's what doctors said.


"Now I'm running and getting close to back to my full potential. And it's a mental thing for me, also, to get back in front of a crowd again, on the field, running. Hopefully, things will turn out pretty good."


One could tell Jones that things already have turned out pretty good, that if the fact he's walking and running doesn't rise to the level of "miracle," it lands in the nearest category.


One could tell him that, but it wouldn't satisfy him.


He's determined to get back to where he was, to rejoin the Giants and play in the NFL.


The odds aren't great. Chances aren't wonderful for an uninjured, perfectly able-bodied man to make an NFL roster and suit up on game days. The likelihood of Jones coming back could fall in the cone of infinitesimal.


But Jones already has come this far, so why wouldn't he believe?


If, as strength and flexibility coach Carter Stamm and speed coach Derrick Joseph attest, his 10-yard splits are better than the ones he ran at the NFL Combine, why not be hopeful?


If work is being done to improve his bench-press repetitions (he did fewer than 10 at the Combine, and the expectation is that he'll progress to 15 or 20) and the belief is that his 40 times (reportedly 4.57 seconds at the Combine) will be matched or improved by the spring, why not think there's a chance?


"I definitely think he can get back to that level," said John Moran, Jones' physical therapist who oversaw his rehabilitation at Southern Orthopedic Specialists. "With it being an injury we've never seen before and such an elite athlete, we don't know what that plateau spot is going to be with Chad. We don't know if it's going to stop, when it's going to stop.


"Derrick, Carter and I think at this point we can make Chad faster than he was before the car accident and a better athlete in the long run."


That, too, would border on miraculous.


Jones drove his SUV head-on into an electrical pole. The pole cleaved through the front, snapping the front axle and shooting it through the floorboard like a spear. It scraped the flesh from Jones' left heel, shattered his lower leg and punctured his left thigh, gouging a large chunk of his quadriceps.


His lower left leg was crushed. The tibia and fibula were shattered in several places. Large sections of his skin were peeled from the leg, exposing muscles and ligaments. Veins and nerves were sliced, and a chunk of muscle hung from his fractured heel.


Also, Jones was suffering from compartment syndrome; the fractured bones in his lower leg were bleeding into their soft-tissue encasements, causing them to bloat. The increased pressure prevented blood from flowing into the muscles, threatening to kill them.


Seven doctors, assisted by medical staff, operated on Jones for more than six consecutive hours.


"It was a devastating injury, probably the worst injury that I ever recall anybody ever trying to come back from in the NFL, as far as fracture, soft-tissue injury," said Dr. Tim Finney, a noted New Orleans orthopedist who attended Jones' workout Thursday. Finney has been a team physician for the Saints since 1993.


"They've had guys come back from a tibia fracture, which he had, but not the soft-tissue injury that he had," Finney said. "He had major crush injury to his quad, his calf, the vascular injury and the nerve damage. Bone, muscle, blood vessel and nerve -- all those things were injured.


"So he's slowly getting all that back. If he can come back and do anything close to what he used to do, it would be a miracle, in my mind. But he has made strides over the last three, four months."


The witnesses to that are many.


"When we started with the hamstring, we did not have 90 degrees of flexibility," Stamm said. "Now, we're at about 125 degrees, and I don't think we need a whole lot more.


"The problems we have right now are the amount of scarring and swelling in the Achilles and in the knee area, and in the foot (pulling your toe to your knee). I'm sure it's because he was immobilized for such a long time, and the amount of damage made it tight. Scar tissue does not break down. You just have to get all the tissue around it to be a little better, behave more and stretch better."


Said Joseph: "When he first came in, the biggest thing was he was on his back for a long time. John did a great job of getting him moving and started. Me and Carter kind of got him back to the fundamentals of running, getting his knees up, driving his arms, leg kick, the whole nine yards. He's definitely improved a lot, but we still have a lot more to go.


"All the rumors I heard about him -- he's never going to play again, he should have lost his leg, he's not going to walk again -- I was pretty amazed that he walked in the door. Seeing him now, every day, it's 'Wow!' for us."


The next such moment could be Wednesday. Jones wants as many supporters to attend as possible. The hope is that a crowd will spur him to greater heights.


"There's been a big jump in my rehab," Jones said. "I definitely see that coming to training camp (in 2012), I should be a part of the Giants.


"From where I was back then, I was depressed. But now I feel so much better because I can see the progress, I can feel the progress since I'm actually running and up on my feet and doing things that a normal athlete would do, or doing the things that I used to do. I'm looking forward to seeing how I'll be in six months."


Considering the progress he already has made, he's not the only one, regardless of the odds.


John DeShazier can be reached at jdeshazier@timespicayune.com or 504.826.3410.

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We're all pulling for you Chad


Heaven knows our DBs could use some support


Saftey huh.......There was a little guy who played for the Cardinals years ago......Larry Wilson


Larry weighed about 160 lbs but made the HOF based upon his ability to cold cokk people with his shoulder........work on your shoulder and back strength <_<

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