How Long Does it Take A Running Back to Recover From An ACL Injury?

Surprisingly, one of the biggest concerns from Packers fans is depth at running back (personally I would have put safety as my top concern).  Fans are worried that the combination of James Starks, Alex Green and Brandon Saine may not be enough to take pressure off Aaron Rodgers and the passing game.  One thing that I think fans have missed is that Alex Green isn’t exactly ready to play, after suffering a brutal ACL injury during week 7 of the 2011 season, whether or not he can be a significant contributor for the offense in 2012.  On the flip side, while Packers fans should not hold ill will against Adrian Peterson, who also injured his ACL (as he is a class act and a great football player), let’s just say Packers fans are hoping to see Peterson in sweat pants during week 13 and week 17.

I wanted to know a little more about ACL injuries in general and their effect in the NFL, so enter in “Outcomes of Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries to Running Backs and Wide Receveirs in the National Football League” by Brian J Sennett MD et al. which was published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine, volume 34, no. 12 1911-1917.  Sennnett et al. looked at 33 running backs and 31 wide receivers that had suffered an ACL injury while on a NFL roster between 1998 and 2002 and analyzed their performance compared to players in their respective positions who had not suffered an ACL injury.  The results are not good.

1. Players on average take 55.8 weeks to recover from an ACL injury:The range for the time of recovery for players suffering an ACL injury is from 40 to 187 weeks.  Keep in mind this does not factor in the offseason where a player may be healthy and capable of playing but cannot return to the field as there are no games to play and the specifics of the injury (such as additional MCL damage and the severity of the injury)

Alex Green: Injured on October 23rd, 2011.

  • Best case scenario for return: July 29th, 2012 (training camp)
  • Average case scenario for return: November 18th, 2012 (at the Lions, week 11, which is the week after the bye)
  • Worst case scenario for return: May 24th, 2015