Big news coming out of One Bills Drive today! It has been reported that WR Kelvin Benjamin suffered a meniscus tear during the 1st quarter of the disastrous Chargers game last week and will be out multiple weeks per reports. Benjamin was unable to return following the hit and had already had ligament damage ruled out via MRI. This is another blow to the WR corps that has been inconsistent this season due to the inability of Tyrod Taylor to move the ball effectively, opting for check-down passes to his RB’s. Today’s post will analyze Benjamin why suffered a meniscus tear, types of meniscus tears, and expectations for the rest of the season.
The meniscus lies over the tibia and acts as a shock absorber between the tibia and femur. It is made up two wedge shaped areas to assist in deepening the area that the femur articulates with the tibia. During meniscus tears, a rotational force is applied to the area while the knee is bent and causes a shearing motion, causing a portion of the meniscus to tear.
There are various types of tears which include but are not limited to: complete or partial, horizontal or vertical, longitudinal or transverse. Acute tears are more likely to present as longitudinal/bucket handle and radial tears. It is very hard to determine the type of meniscal tear that occurred, but may be a longitudinal/bucket handle tear upon video review. The knee was hit from the front and partially to the outside, causing hyperextension to his knee. As mentioned above, a rotational force or bent knee is far more likely to cause the tear. In Kelvin Benjamin’s case, a hyperextended knee caused the tear, but is usually less likely.
Symptoms of a meniscal tear typically consist of pain, tenderness, and swelling, locking or clicking during knee movement, and initially difficulty in placing weight through the knee. Meniscal tears are typically seen in conjunction with MCL sprains/tears and ACL tears due to the rotational forces through the knee during impact. Thankfully, Benjamin’s injury was isolated to only the meniscus and did not affect other structures.
The type of tear can affect healing rates: longitudinal tears heal better than radial; simple tears heal better than complex; traumatic and acute tears heal better than degenerative. Based on location and length of tear will determine management. The meniscus has several “zones of vascularity” which include: red-red zone, red-white zone, and white-white zone. The red-red zone has the highest blood supply and lie on the outermost portion of the meniscus. The red-white zone is the area that connects the red-red and white-white zone and contains some blood supply. The white-white zone has a poor blood supply and demonstrate the poorest area for healing. If the tear is small, conservative management or a meniscectomy may be performed to remove to remove the offending piece. If the tear is larger, then a suture repair of the meniscus is warranted and an extended rehab is required. As Benjamin is slated to miss weeks, this appears to be a minor tear and could come back this season.
I’m sure most people’s thoughts are why WR Zay Jones did not sustain the same injury that Benjamin did? Why Benjamin tore a portion of his meniscus and not WR Zay Jones against the Jets game is certainly confusing. My thought is that Jones got tripped , attempted to regain his footing, and merely fell; Benjamin got hit while his foot was planted causing more of a shearing motion, causing the tear. Whether Benjamin has surgery or not, he will be out several weeks. How long Benjamin is out is unknown at this time, but I foresee him missing most likely a month. Could he come back sooner such as 2-3 weeks? Possibly but highly unlikely pending the location of the tear. He could attempt to rehab without surgery which does show good results compared to surgical intervention but this is the NFL and time is a premium. If he were to be out a month, he could return by the 1st Dolphins or 2nd Patriots game if there is still playoff hope if his recovery went incredibly well.
Finally, Benjamin did suffer a knee injury earlier this season with the Panthers but I do not believe that he was traded to the Bills with a torn meniscus. His play would have been greatly affected and team doctor’s would have caught that. Add in the fact that the knee he hurt this season was on the other side and that was his surgically repaired ACL. There is also delays in reporting of the injury due to the fact that additional imaging is sometimes required along with a clinical evaluation and testing once swelling has reduced. Most likely, the team was waiting to see if the knee would resolve on its own or whether anything would present itself after several day.
The approach should be to rehab him with the hopes that the Bills are still in the hunt. If they fall out of contention, shut him down for the year. Even with the best rehab and doctors, his body still needs to heal and return to playing form. While QB Tyrod Taylor has not built up the rapport that he has with other receivers, it is still a starting caliber receiver that is not able to contribute.
Continue to check back regarding further updates and injuries following the Bills game. Follow me on Twitter at @kyletrimble88 for the latest updates and news. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!