Training camp is nearly upon us Bills Mafia! The Buffalo Bills filled out their 90 man roster earlier today with the signing of LB Keenan Robinson, formerly of the Redskins and most recently the Giants. The 6th year veteran has appeared in 58 NFL games and has shown he is able to play at a high level, starting 30 games. However, he has had several major injuries that have limited his availability and long term prospects.
During Robinson’s time in Washington, Robinson appeared in 11 games and his rookie season was cut short with a right pectoral muscle tear in Week 12. He was placed on injured reserve with surgery performed shortly after. Entering the 2013 season, he suffered a tear to his left pectoral muscle early in training camp which ended his season before it even began.
The pectoralis major is the fan shaped muscle that primarily comprises the chest muscle. This allows the arm to move into horizontal adduction which allows the arm to be brought across the body towards midline. This permits the athlete to push loads away from the body such as a bench press or in the event of football, pushing lineman. The pectoralis major also assists with arm flexion and rotating the humerus medially, moves seen in football with the use of pushing a lineman’s arms up and out of the way to create space or to perform a swim move to get around the block respectively.
As seen in the bench press, the pectoralis major is a very powerful muscle and is one of the primary means for NFL teams to assess player strength. Unfortunately, as with any muscle in the body, it can fail. With Robinson, each of his pectoral muscles tore in consecutive seasons which is fairly uncommon. Most tears occur at the distal attachment point where it connects to the humerus or upper arm. With a tear, significant bruising, pain, and swelling is present. In addition, a noticeable deformity is present as the muscle retracts back to its origin and appears to bunch up with loss of function.
Surgery is usually recommended for higher level athletes as in the case of Robinson. Rehabilitation typically takes between 4-6 months for full return with additional time typically required to return to sport specific activities. While pectoral injuries are less common than lower extremity injuries in the NFL, it is still more common to see an athlete injure the contralateral side after sustaining the original injury such as the case of an ACL tear or Achilles.
In addition to the pectoral injuries, he has also suffered injuries which caused him lost time including: knee injury in late 2014, shoulder injury midway through the 2015 season, a concussion in training camp to start 2017 finishing up with a quadriceps injury that forced him back to injured reserve for the last 8 games of the season. Most of the above mentioned injuries are rather vanilla in nature and appear to be mild to moderate sprains. However, the quadriceps injury is not detailed but considering that it led to the IR, I suspect a quadriceps tear. It was reported that he injured the leg attempting to chase down a receiver and came up lame. I surmise that he attempted to slow down too quickly and while he was slowing down, the quads eccentrically contracted too quickly during deceleration which means that it began lengthening too quickly with excessive force, ultimately tearing. However, it was not reported that he had surgery for this most recently injury.
I have not watched Robinson play so I can not state whether he has a hard nose style play as we saw out of CB E.J. Gaines last year or is just more prone to injuries. There are several risk factors for tendon injuries including: age, sex, previous overloading of the injured area, fatigue, and improper healing of an injured tendon leading to tendinopathy. In addition, heavy weight lifting, excessive body weight, and local use of corticosteroid injections can play a role in tendon rupture which may have contributed to the consistent type of injuries Robinson has sustained.
As the veteran linebacker is a late signing, he does have the experience to continue playing in the NFL and will challenge for a roster spot. Unfortunately, with his injury history and his age, I do not expect him to make the final roster. He could make it if several players ahead of him fail to impress or become injured, leading to a shortage of available bodies. We have seen from the front office brass that every roster move is made with purpose and this is no exception. The next 6 weeks will determine how successful the 2018 season will be for the Buffalo Bills.
Continue to check back for the latest training camp updates, injury analysis, and new player signings as the preseason begins. Follow on Twitter @BangedUpBills and at www.bangedupbills.com. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!