Surgeon details Bengals QB Joe Burrow’s recovery from knee procedure

Joe Burrow’s return to the field by Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season was celebrated. It was impressive for the Bengals quarterback to be back in time to begin the season after he tore his ACL and MCL during his rookie season, in addition to having damage to his PCL.

But the reality can be addressed now — Burrow wasn’t himself. He wasn’t the player you’ll see on the field Sunday for Super Bowl LVI against the Los Angeles Rams. He was playing, but he wasn’t ballin’.

And according to the doctor who repaired Burrow’s knee and set the wheels in motion for a dramatic return that would lead him to be the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year, the differences are noticeable.

“The thing you saw towards November and December was what everybody had seen at LSU — that he could run,” said Dr. Neal ElAttrache of Kerlan-Jobe Orthopedic Clinic, who performed the operation on Burrow. “The kid could run and evade people and he was elusive. If you watch him on film and see where he was that first game, you notice he got better and better as the season went on. And his throwing was there, he was throwing the ball well, but he started to do more with difficult pass routes as the season went on. That indicates he’s very confident.”

“It’s night and day from the first half of the season,” Burrow told reporters this week. “I’m starting to finally feel like myself and able to pull out of some of those tackles when defensive players have me wrapped up in the pocket, and I’m starting to be able to get out of those situations and make some plays. “

Watching Burrow week after week, it appears that he actually is getting better the later it gets in the season. The stats show that, as well.

From Week 10 on, Burrow has improved his completion percentage (71.7% compared to 68.2%), passing yardage (295.6 to 277.4), TD to INT ratio (18-5 to 20-11) and passer rating (109.2 to 102.6). He’s also thrown for five 300 yard games since Week 13 after hitting that mark just twice before then.

And with ElAttrache noting the added late athleticism, Burrow’s play has shown that, as well. Burrow averaged 2.1 yards per carry through Week 9 and 3.6 yards since.

“He’s very dangerous when he has the ball in his hands and he’s taken the game to the opponent now,” said ElAttrache, who is also the Rams’ team doctor. “He’s not letting it come to him. He’s aggressive. At the beginning, he was just getting a feel. But then there has been a whole new aggressiveness the last couple months.”

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